Twenty-one (21) farmer cooperatives received start-up financial assistance from the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) to operate Rice Processing Centers (RPCs) that were provided by the Department of Agriculture.

The financial assistance provided in the form of soft loans are to be used by the farmers’ cooperatives as working capital for their rice trading activities – from procuring the rice produce of farmers to the processing and trading of milled rice. The loans are payable in 3 to 4 years and to be amortized semi-annually with a grace period of one year. The ACPC validated the RPCs to determine their operational condition and financing requirements.

The ACPC released a total of P13 million in the 3rd quarter of 2016 to cooperative-recipients in three regions: P5.5 million to 7 cooperatives in Region 4B, P5 million to 9 cooperatives in Region 5, and P2.5 million to 5 cooperatives in Region 12. The loans helped finance production during the first cropping season.

Another P2.5 million is programmed to be released within 2016 to five (5) more cooperatives in Regions 3 and 12.

The DA RPCs are grains-processing and storage centers equipped with post-harvest facilities such as a multi-pass milling system (composed of rice hullers, aspirators, color sorter and length grader) and technologies to improve the efficiency of rice production, milling, drying and storage. Each facility has a minimum of 65 percent milling recovery compared to the 50% recovery rate of a single-pass rice mill of commercial millers thereby reducing postharvest losses. The RPCs also help in increasing farmers’ incomes by producing quality milled rice, improving distribution, and maximizing utilization of byproducts.

Under the National Rice Program, the DA constructed 170 RPCs nationwide to optimize the utilization of rice farms and labor productivity. The granting of RPCs to eligible farmers associations/organizations helped in reducing the dependence of small farmers to commercial rice millers and improve rice farmers income.

RPCs are classified according to their production capacity. The P6 million small-scale rice center or RPC-1 is equipped with a multi-pass miller with a 1.2 ton per hour output capacity and a warehouse. The medium-sized rice center or RPC-2 cost around P12 million and equipped with a two-ton per hour multi-pass miller and a warehouse.

The ACPC is also recommending to DA Secretary Piñol the approval of financing assistance for another 16 RPC-recipient cooperatives.