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Our learning alliance partners are highly encouraged to share their stories. Please submit the article/story (200 words minimum) in word format and related photos (preferably with captions) in .jpeg file and email them to r.quilloy@irri.org. 

IRRI-Bangladesh gets the ball rolling on new project for reducing postharvest losses

posted Jun 15, 2014, 5:05 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 15, 2014, 5:40 PM ]

by Alfred Schmidley 

IRRI-Bangladesh kicked off the Innovations Lab for Reduction of Postharvest Loss, a new project that aims to enhance food security in Bangladesh by reducing postharvest losses and recovering more rice from farmers’ harvests, at the BRAC Center in Dhaka on 3 June.  The 5-year project is funded by USAID, under the Feed the Future initiative, and will be implemented by IRRI–Bangladesh with support from Kansas State University and  the University of Illinois.

The event included learning activities in identifying postharvest needs for research and technologies. It also focused on improving the processing of both paddy and seed through multi-stakeholder partnerships, including farmers and women Self-Help Groups. Participating organizations included international NGOs, universities and government research institutions, community-based organizations, and other postharvest stakeholders. Dr. M.A. Sattar Mandal, former vice-chancellor and current professor at Bangladesh Agricultural University, Dr. Shahidur Rahman Bhuiyan, USAID senior agricultural and food policy advisor, and Dr. Paul Fox, IRRI representative for Bangladesh, were the featured speakers. 

As part of its next step, Innovations Lab for Reduction of Postharvest Loss will engage local partner networks for assessing needs for training and piloting of awareness-raising of options that suit to local actors needs.

Posted from the IRRI Bulletin

Philippines: ADB-funded project links postharvest actors with finance sector

posted May 8, 2014, 9:02 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 8, 2014, 9:07 AM ]

More than 50 representatives from various sectors attended a forum, Emerging opportunities for postharvest technologies and entrepreneurship, which aims to increase awareness among microfinance institutions, banks, and policymakers, of improved technologies and entrepreneurial enterprise opportunities.

The forum, held on 15 January 2013 in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, also provided farmers who have tested these new options, to present sustainable business cases for adopting hermetic storage and business plans for pursuing contract drying services.

The forum was an activity of the Philippine Postharvest Learning Alliance, a multi-stakeholder platform that works to reduce postharvest losses and increase incomes of farmers and other postharvest actors. Learning alliances have also been established in Cambodia and Vietnam by the Asian Development Bank-funded Postharvest Project, with complementary support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Alfred Schmidley, IRRI business model and value chain specialist, explains, “We hope that this event will inspire and allow these new stakeholders to establish better linkages to loan products and other services to technologies and enterprise pilot for scaling out further with Learning Alliance actors.”

Several business cases for adopting hermetic storage and mechanical drying services were presented by local farmers. Mr. Schmidley and Raquel Dacanay from Caraga State University provided guidance for the farmers in developing business cases.

Several financial institutions then presented a range of activities, products, and services available to the farmers who want funding for their business plans.

The participants also discussed issues on finance and policy and next steps for future learning activities.

The event culminated with a demonstration of the reversible airflow flatbed dryer by Dexter Ona and Caesar Tado from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice); and the IRRI Super Bag by Jose Gomos, vice-president of GrainPro, Inc.(makers of the Super Bag), at the PhilRice Agusan del Norte station.

Posted by Maria Leah Cruz for the IRRI Bulletin

Myanmar: Farmers learn to link with wholesale and export market

posted May 8, 2014, 8:51 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 19, 2014, 5:33 PM ]

 A learning alliance (LA) meeting on linking with markets was conducted last May 2-3, 2014 in Yangon. About 25 alliance members, farmers, private sector, and NGO partners from Bogale and Maubin townships attended the event.

 The participants visited a wholesale rice trading depot in Wadan and an export market in Bayint Naung area to interact with traders and learn about quality, varieties, logistics and pricing of grains. The group also interacted with members of Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders’ Association (MRPTA) and township trade leaders to know more about trading practices. With the emphasis on producing good quality from good seeds, farmers met with staff of the Hmaw Bi Seed farm to know about available seeds and seed production.

 Farmers learned about quality. U Kyaw Ei, a Bogale rice farmer, said that Bogale rice is priced the lowest of nine townships trading the same variety in Wadan. From milled rice samples of traders, he saw the low price has to do with low quality grains.

 For Maubin and Bogale LA, the learning cycle on varieties and postharvest will continue for the monsoon season 2014. 

By Rica Flor

Posted at IRRI Bulletin 

IRRI Media Release: Wonder rice dryer

posted Apr 3, 2014, 11:38 PM by Unknown user

In the rural town of Bogale, Myanmar, 9 women and 16 men from the Myanmar Department of Agriculture, partner NGOs, and IRRI trained on how to operate and set up a newly designed dryer that could protect rice grains from sudden rain, pests and intense heat.

Called the solar bubble dryer, it was designed by a team of experts from the University of Hohenheim, GrainPro, Inc., and IRRI.

The name comes from the unique characteristics in its design: "solar" due to ambient conditions that provide heat from the air that flows inside the dryer and “bubble” for the dome-like shape of the cover or roof when it is set up.

“We tried several designs when we started, not one of them was the bubble design,” explained Engr. Ana Salvatierra, a researcher and postgraduate student from the University of Hohenheim, who works on the project.

“In the early designs, we included a chimney, but it was not very efficient to move air through the drying tunnel. And when there was a typhoon, the chimney fell. So, we reworked the design using small ventilators to move air. That’s when we also came up with the bubble concept,” she said.
The small ventilator inflates the bubble and circulates air. The airflow then removes water from inside the drying tunnel, where the grains are, and prevents overheating. To make sure that the grains dry evenly, they are stirred from time to time using a metal roller underneath the dryer.

“Based on our grain quality results in the lab, its drying performance is quite satisfactory,” said Engr. Salvatierra.

It can dry rice grains to a moisture content level of 10–13%, depending on whether the weather is dry or wet.

"For laboratory experiments that assess grain quality, our ideal moisture content is 14%," she said. "But, most of the time, the moisture content would depend on the milling facility, and if the grains will be used for consumption or for seed production.

"For example, if the grains will be used for seed production then it is advisable to dry to less than 12% to maintain good germination rates in storage over an extended period," she explained.

“The dryer is still a work-in-progress, but it has numerous advantages over a mechanical dryer for small farmers. It is affordable, easy to use, and is ideal for rural areas without a power grid or source of electricity,” explained Engr. Martin Gummert, head of the IRRI Postharvest Unit.

“Unlike most dryers that require higher amounts of paddy to dry, the solar bubble dryer has a capacity of 1 ton, which it can dry in 1-2 days depending if it’s sunny or rainy,” he added.

A typical recirculating batch dryer, for example, requires at least 10 tons of rice in just one drying operation. Because it needs electricity to run the dryer and fuel for the air heater at the same time, the investment and operating cost for such a dryer is higher. 

“An additional benefit of the solar bubble dryer comes from its photovoltaic solar panels that provide power to the battery of the ventilators,” said Engr. Gummert.

“For example, in Myanmar, many farming villages do not have access to electricity. The solar panels and the battery can also be used for other purposes, such as lighting the house when the dryer is not used,” he explained.

Currently, the solar bubble dryer is being tested in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Africa.

“We need to test it in different countries to optimize its design, its management, adapt it to local conditions, and minimize investment cost,” said Engr. Gummert.

Posted at IRRI website 

Bangladesh: CSISA and FtF Innovations Lab join hands in Bangladesh for promoting drying technology

posted Apr 3, 2014, 10:59 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 3, 2014, 11:00 PM ]

On 22 March 2014, a “Miller’s Workshop on Flatbed Drying of Parboiled Paddy” was held in Jessore, Bangladesh.  The event was co-sponsored by two US-AID-funded initiatives, the CSISA Project and the Feed the Future (FtF) Lab Project with supporting partners, IRRI, WorldFish, Practical Action, and ADMI.

The stakeholder workshop sought to test and demonstrate newly piloted flat bed drying technology with village millers and other stakeholders for drying of high-moisture freshly parboiled paddy – a new application under evaluation in Bangladesh.  This can potentially remove labor bottlenecks and drudgery in the processing of parboiled rice that is commonly eaten throughout South Asian countries.

Currently village millers sun-dry parboiled paddy on large concrete platforms.  While the sun is “free”, the platforms are expensive and take land out of production.  Moreover, the sun is not available for sufficient periods during cooler, cloudy winter months, or during the rainy season.  This produces delays in processing and a major bottleneck for farmers, millers, and other actors in the chain.

As a result of this workshop, 4 additional pilots will be established in new locations with new stakeholders who agreed to invest in the technology for the upcoming Boro season.  “Through such learning events, private sector millers and processors are convinced to directly invest in this technology, while projects such as CSISA and the FtF Innovations Lab ensure technical support and training early on for successful entry,” explains Alfred Schmidley, IRRI’s Postharvest Value Chain Specialist.

Posted at IRRI News 

Myanmar: Village-level learning alliance meetings conducted

posted Apr 3, 2014, 5:44 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 19, 2014, 5:34 PM ]

Two village-level learning alliance (LA) meetings were held in Maubin and Bogale Townships last March 15 and 18, 2014. These meetings aim to support ACIAR and UNOPS funded project activities and use new technologies like new varieties and postharvest technologies.

 For the Maubin Township LA meeting facilitated by Rica Flor, 44 participants ( 13 women) from the Department of Agriculture (DOA), four key project villages, partner NGOs, millers, traders,  private sector stakeholders, and IRRI personnel attended the event. Updates were provided regarding the ongoing participatory varietal selection trials and postharvest issues.  
 Meanwhile, a total of 36 participants joined the Bogale LA meeting held in the Bogale Township Library and facilitated by Reianne Quilloy. There were 23 farmers (6 women); 4 from NGO; 2 from DOA; 1 miller; and 6 from IRRI who attended the event. One of the event highlights was the sharing of farmers about the benefits and challenges in piloting the flatbed dryer (FBD). The FBD was installed by the IRRI Postharvest group and funded by the Group for Research and Technology Exchanges (GRET) and village farmers on October 2013, which the farmers’ group has already used in the last postharvest season.  GRET has in the meantime established an inventory storage system for the group which will complement the drying operation, enabling farmers to store high quality rice coming from the dryer until market prices are favorable for selling grains.

 As a result of the meetings, the farmers identified next learning activities, i.e. farmers will produce good quality grains using postharvest technology, like the FBD, sell it to the miller partners, document how the crop is assessed, and see if the millers will give price incentive for quality.

The Learning Alliance is a platform to engage project stakeholders to share, learn from each other, and collaborate on providing solutions to produce better quality grains and link farmers to better markets in Myanmar.  

by Reianne Quilloy 
Posted at IRRI News

India: IRRI joins “Consumer and Marketplace Literacy for Women Entrepreneurs”

posted Mar 9, 2014, 6:45 PM by Unknown user

The Marketplace Literacy Community Trust, an NGO in India that seeks to promote consumer literacy and entrepreneurship amongst the rural poor, conducted training activity for women’s Self Help Groups in Chennai using their innovative video-based marketplace literacy approach.

This approach to helping disadvantaged and marginalized groups was developed by Professor Madhu Viswanathan of the University of Illinois, with whom IRRI is a partner in understanding postharvest needs.

IRRI’s Alfred Schmidley, value chain specialist, and Aanand Kumar, postharvest specialist of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), joined the event to learn more about this approach firsthand.

The training, held on 19-21 February 2014, was organized by MLC founder and director R. Venkatasen and his staff, who arranged visits for farmers, millers, and other postharvest chain actors during the visit of Alfred and Aanand.

“This innovative learning approach can be extended to serve postharvest needs and opportunities for women and marginalized farmers as entrepreneurs,” said Alfred. “This could help foster the sustainable adoption of improved postharvest technologies and a better understanding of markets and linkages in the chain.” 

by Alfred Schmidley 
Posted in the IRRI Bulletin website

Chinese Taipei: IRRI scientist speaks on reducing postharvest losses at APEC seminar

posted Aug 15, 2013, 11:47 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 19, 2014, 5:33 PM ]

Alfred Schmidley, business model and value chain specialist at IRRI, was a featured speaker at the recent APEC seminar, Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply Chain, hosted by Chinese Taipei.

The event, held on 5–8 August 2013, was the first major output of a multi-year project by APEC that was began this year to address losses in food processing and supply chains. It was attended by 120 participants from the APEC Secretariat and 18 member-economies.
In his presentation titled, Advancing postharvest technologies to reduce losses in rice postharvest value chains, Mr. Schmidley spoke about how postharvest losses are aggravated by increased yields, cropping systems intensification, and other factors such as labor shortages, the absence of improved technologies, and the lack of a postharvest sector capacity to efficiently process paddy and reduce losses.

The APEC seminar highlighted the fact that 95% of agricultural research monies go toward increasing yields while only 5%, or less, is allocated to reducing postharvest losses and addressing other postharvest issues.

The seminar is part of an ongoing effort by APEC to raise awareness about food losses, find better ways to measure and assess losses among member-economies, enable private sector investment, and foster adoption of technologies that can reduce losses across farm and food-processing supply chains.

At the end of the conference, delegates agreed to establish a focal point network (FPN) and appoint cross-sector representatives from APEC member-economies. They also agreed to establish a research team to follow up on assessment methodologies, tool kits, datasets, and the need for future capacity building activities. 

by Alfred Schmidley 
posted at IRRI Bulletin

VietNam: Rice postharvest and laser leveling advocacy seminar conducted

posted Aug 6, 2013, 5:44 PM by Unknown user

by Reianne Quilloy and Trina Mendoza
While the Mekong Delta remains to be the major rice-producing area in VietNam, other regions must not be left behind to increase the country’s rice exporting quality through improved postharvest technologies. 

 To address this concern, the Asian Development Bank-IRRI Postharvest Project, through Nong Lam University (NLU) and in cooperation with the National Extension Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), organized a Seminar on Rice Postharvest and Laser Leveling for the Northern, Central, and Highland regions of VietNam on 30-31 July in Quang Ngai Province.

 About 70 participants from the project’s partner universities, local government authorities, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Trimble, and Ideal Farming Corporation attended the event. The seminar aimed to (1) identify problems, constraints, opportunities, and potential in expanding technologies in the northern, central, and highland regions of VietNam; (2) document viewpoints, directions for policy recommendations for promoting the laser leveling technology; and (3) discuss future commitments of the provinces. 

 A short field tour was conducted at the Quang Ngai Sugarcane Seed Center and Ngia Hinh District to show the participants the benefits and use of laser leveling technology.  Partners from NLU’s Ho Chi Minh City and and Hue campuses presented the results of their assessments on the different rice postharvest technologies in VietNam.  Ms. Truong Thi Thanh Nhan, one for the first buyers of the laser leveling equipment in Dak Lak Province, central VietNam, reported on the benefits she reaped by using the technology. Mark Heyward of Trimble presented their different business model proposals that interested farmers or farmers’ groups may consider if they want to purchase laser leveling equipment.

 During the discussion, it was concluded that to expand the awareness of postharvest technologies in the country, there should be a developed policy to support farmers in terms of mechanization, land reform, and financial support; increased communication and extension activities in the different regions; established demonstration models for farmers to see the benefits of the technologies; and fostered collaborations in other rice-growing regions in VietNam.  

Cambodia: Postharvest project assesses outcomes

posted Jun 25, 2013, 5:19 PM by Unknown user

by Rica Joy Flor

Seventy-eight partners of the ADB-IRRI Postharvest Project from Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines met in Battambang, Cambodia, on 19 June for the International Seminar on Reducing Rice Postharvest Losses, funded by the Asian Development Bank. 

Partners, who come from the government, the private sector, IRRI, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), reported on the milestones and outcomes from adaptive research, technology promotion, and participatory approaches of the project. 

Initial results from a case study of technology adoption by farmers in Cambodia were also presented, showing indicators of benefits. 

Project outcomes in the three countries were impressive, with combine harvesting having been established in Cambodia, flat-bed dryers introduced in Cambodia and the Philippines, hermetic storage systems increasingly being sold, and laser-leveling gaining traction in Cambodia and Vietnam. 

Partners then discussed remaining activities and outlined new challenges to postharvest loss reduction and the ways toward addressing these. The project will close in October 2013. 

A half-day cross-learning event was held prior to the seminar, on 18 June, where 200 participants including Learning Alliance members, key representatives from institutions and policy, and 92 farmers visited three sites representing different players of the postharvest value chain: a farmer cooperative that provides drying services and demonstrated simple granary improvements; a large-scale miller who exports rice and uses both modern and flatbed dryers; and a rice demonstration farm at the Don Bosco School where a flat bed dryer, hermetic storage, a rice mill, laser-leveled fields, and other equipment for mechanization was showcased. 

Don Bosco operates several technical schools and is introducing in its curriculum agricultural machinery mechanics, with assistance from the project. 

Martin Gummert, project leader, said that the challenge of postharvest losses continues to increase as countries intensify rice production, which results in more and wetter paddy entering often antiquated postharvest systems. 

“Our project partners have had tremendous success in introducing new technologies,“ said Dr. Gummert. “More than 200 of the dryers introduced through the project are now in use in Cambodia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, partners have started developing the next generation of drying technology. Laser-leveling is also picking up, and hermetic storage solutions are increasingly being used." 

But the job is far from finished, said Dr. Gummert, who is also IRRI's postharvest specialist. "New problems arose with the introduction of some of the technologies, and the improper use of combine harvesters, for example, have caused excessive losses," he said. "We are committed to continue working with our partner countries in addressing these challenges, and continue helping create success stories by considering some of these outcomes in new projects and by influencing policy.” 

Posted by Ms. Maria Leah Cruz for the IRRI Bulletin 

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