TIEN GIANG (VNS)— Small-scale paddy fields, non-synchronous mechanisms, poor infrastructure, and a lack of drying and storing facilities are among the major reasons for the high post-rice harvest loss rate in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, experts say.
The delta, the country's rice granary, has posted a post-harvest loss rate of 13.7 per cent, according to the Southern Institute for Agriculture Engineering and Post Harvesting Technology (IAEPHT).
Of the loss, harvesting and husking account for 3 per cent, drying accounts for 4.2 per cent, and preservation accounts for 2.9 per cent. The average post-harvest loss rate in Southeast Asian countries is 10 per cent.
With the Delta's current post-harvest rate, a farmer will lose about VND12 million (US$570) per ha annually when yielding three rice crops a year, while the entire delta region will lose about $650 million per year, according to the IAEPHT.
Speaking at a seminar in Tien Giang Province on Wednesday, organised by the ministries of Industry and Trade, Agriculture and Rural Development and Tien Giang People's Committee, Pham Van Tan, deputy director of the IAEPHT, said though the rate of mechanism in rice cultivation had increased significantly in recent years the post-harvest loss rate had increased due to poor farmers not applying the mechanism synchronously.
Most harvesting is now done by combine machines, which are able to meet the harvesting demand during peak harvest season. However, the use of certain combine harvesting machines, such as the Japanese brand Kubota, have caused the number of paddy grains falling into fields to increase two times higher than that of a manual harvest, said seminar participants.
To reduce post-harvest losses, the engineering sector should undertake research into different types of imported harvesting machines suitable for small-scale fields in the south, the particpants added. If the reduction of post-harvest losses is done well, the Delta can increase it's number of paddy grains by about 3 million tonnes per year. The delta, which possesses 2.1 million square metres of land devoted to rice cultivation, produced 23 million tonnes of paddy grains last year. And while the aim is to increase productivity and expand the area, it is very difficult to increase rice productivity by 3-5 per cent when there is such a large amount of waste.
Le Van Banh, head of the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, said the reduction of post-harvest losses can only be achieved through synchronously implemented mechanisms.
At the seminar, participants also discussed market development and trade promotion, researching and transferring production technologies, training human resources and developing infrastructure facilities for agricultural production. — VNS