STA. BARBARA, Pangasinan, Sept. 11 (PIA) — After a test-run late last month, the P196 million-modern post harvest facility built by the Koreans here is now officially open.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala led the ceremonial switching along with Gov. Amado Espino, Jr., Korean International Cooperative Agency (KOICA) resident representative Kim Jinoh and National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) head Allan Javellana.
The event signalled a major step towards farm modernization in Pangasinan, the country’s second biggest rice and vegetable producing province. Espino acknowledged the rice processing plant as the most significant post harvest facility ever built in the province.
In his acceptance speech, he urged farmer-irrigators in the province, the main beneficiaries of the project, to extend full support and cooperation to the project to achieve its main goal of increasing rice production and farmer’s income, as well as improving rice quality.
Pangasinan, he noted, used to be the bread basket in Luzon, being the number one producer of palay and corn. He thus called on his fellow Pangasinenses to go back to agriculture and regain the status of Pangasinan as a premier province in the production of superior and quality rice.
The facility is the second of its kind in the country. A pilot facility of similar design was built in 2006 in Baler, Quezon. Three (3) similar plants are slated for construction in Davao, Bohol and Iloilo.
The integrated processing plant is capable of drying 1,000 bags in an eight-hour-day shift. It also has a brown rice and polished rice mill that could churn out 2.5 metric tons of rice in one day, packing machines for the milled rice and a storage facility that can accommodate 1,100 metric tons at any given time.
Both drying and milling capacities may double or triple if the complex is run on full gear at two or three 8-hour shifts a day.
The Korean government provided the P160 million grant through KOICA. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the provincial government provided the balance of P36 million.
Another P30 million was set aside by the DA to jumpstart its operations, mostly for the purchase of newly harvested palay from farmers here and nearby towns.
The plant’s success, however, will depend much on the management expertise of the DA through its investment and agribusiness arm NABCOR and the active involvement of farmers’ organizations to supply quality wet palay for processing into premium rice and their ability to later run the facility viably on their own.
The facility is now owned by the DA and the province. NABCOR will handle actual operations. (JCR/DOS-PIA 1 Pangasinan with report from PIO by Danny O Sagun)