LOS BAÑOS, THE PHILIPPINES — IRRI aims to improve the lives of smallholder producers in Southeast Asia by delivering solutions to reduce post-harvest losses, boost producer income, and increase rice production sustainability.

During the 13th International Rice Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, IRRI joined fellow global experts in a forum where they shared solutions and approaches to sustainable rice production, such as recent developments in post-harvest technologies and learning alliances.

Martin Gummert, IRRI’s expert on post-harvest and mechanization, said producers experience rice physical losses ranging from 7% to 30% from harvesting to milling. Due to quality control, it can further reduce its value by 20% to 30%. In order to improve producers’ income, there is a need to learn and adopt post-harvest technologies like mechanical threshers, combine harvesters, dryers, and storage systems which can reduce losses by 5% to 10%.

While effective, these technologies are not easily accessible to resource-poor producers due to its cost. In order to address this concern, IRRI developed and demonstrated business models that provide contract services that can make post-harvest technologies available and profitable.

During the forum, alliances also were formed to create a platform for various rice value chain stakeholders, where participants may exchange market information. Through these alliances, farmers are able to form linkages and gain timely information on current demand and prices which, in turn, may improve the quality and price of their produce. In some areas, it has been reported that farmers were able to increase their income by as much as $140 per hectare by selling high-quality produce in premium markets.

Through these interventions, coupled with strengthening the support services and giving policy recommendations, IRRI is working to increase producer income and the quality of their produce, and provides ways to maintain sustainable rice production.

The International Rice Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean was held at the National University in Piura, Peru from May 15-18. It was organized by the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR), Hacienda El Potrero (FLAR member in Peru), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, and the Rice Research Program by CGIAR.