Bill seeks to mandate construction of postharvest facilities

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee is pushing for the passage of a bill compelling the government to construct and provide postharvest facilities to lower postharvest production losses and increase the income of farmers.

In filing House Bill (HB) 3958 or the “Post-Harvest Facilities Support Act,” Lee underscored the need to provide warehouses, rice mills, and transport facilities, including crucial equipment such as flatbed dryers and threshers, to increase production.

“During our consultation among farmers and agricultural workers, one of the solutions we gathered is closing the domestic supply-and-demand gap and increasing productivity through post-harvest facilities provided by the government,” Lee said.

Republic Act 8435 or the “Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act,” defines postharvest activities as those involving threshing, drying, milling, grading, storage and handling of produce and other activities such as stripping, winnowing, chipping and washing.

Postharvest facilities for conducting these activities include drying and milling facilities, fish ports and landings, ice plants and refrigerated storage facilities, processing plants, warehouses, buying stations, and market infrastructure and transportation.

Under HB 3958, the Department of Public Works and Highways, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and farmer cooperatives shall construct warehouses and rice mills in every rice producing municipality and city in the Philippines: Provided, that in the initial phase of the program, every district with at least one rice-producing municipality shall be the beneficiary of at least one warehouse and rice mill.

In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry, in consultation with the DA, the DAR, and farmer cooperatives, shall provide the equipment and machinery required to operate these warehouses and rice mills such as flatbed dryers and threshers, as well as the necessary transport facilities.

“With the vision to employ state-of-the-art equipment and well-trained personnel, postharvest facilities especially in regions heavily producing rice should be able to produce properly-dried paddy and consequently better-quality milled rice,” said Lee.

“The presence of these facilities should also provide a safety net for farmers during periods of oversupply, when drying facilities are overutilized and private traders are not willing to accept wet paddy and/or offer very low buying prices.”