TACLOBAN CITY — Amid plummeting prices of palay and increased production cost that are hurting rice farmers all over the country, the Department of Agriculture is looking at a Leyte-based private company to serve as its model for rice sufficiency that can be replicated in other rice-producing regions.
“The future of rice farming is here in Leyte,” says Agriculture Secretary William Dar during his visit here Friday when he toured the Chen Yi Agventures (CYA) Rice Processing complex in Alangalang town, some 30 kilometers from this city.
The P1.7 billion rice processing complex, owned by French industrialist Francois Patrick Renucci and his Filipina-Chinese wife Rachel Tan-Renucci, produces the premium Dalisay Rice which is sold in high-end grocery stores in Metro Manila and is served in some fine dining restaurants.
The French couple put up the rice processing plant after typhoon “Yolanda” to help rice farmers in the region recover from the devastation by buying palay at a price higher than what is offered by rice traders and introducing technologies that will increase production.
CYA is introducing what it call the Renucci Partnership Program where farmers can avail a full mechanization of the whole production line — from land preparation to planting and harvesting — thus lessening the cost and wastage in the whole process.
The company buys the harvest of its members and non-members and processes them in its state-of-the-art facility. The rice processor is said to be the most technologically-advanced facility in Southeast Asia as its technology can produce high quality rice at par or even better Thai and Japanese rice.
Rachel Tan-Renucci said that since the farmers applied the technology in rice farming, harvest shoot up from the previous 60-70 cavans per hectare to between 100 to 180 cavans now.
The area of Alangalang town and its neighboring municipalities of Sta. Fe, Jaro, Barugo, San Miguel and Carigara is considered the rice granary of Eastern Visayas. Leyte is the fifth top rice-producing province in the country.
“We will make the Renucci Agventure’s partnership with the small farmers as model for other regions in the country,” Dar said during a dialogue with farmers and CYA officials.
“In line with the big brother and small brother concept, we will institutionalize our partnership, and if you could set up like this in every district in joint-venture corporation, then surely we can attain rice self-sufficiency,” he said addressing to CYA.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has already expressed interest in participating in the partnership program.