Sunday, August 10, 2014

Postharvest activities to reduce losses ramp up in Myanmar

By Reianne Quilloy, Christopher Cabardo, and Rica Joy Flor
Demonstrating a technology such as the solar bubble dryer requires a hands-on exercise for participants
 to be able to experience and assess the feasibility of the technology. Photo by Reianne Quilloy

Rice production in Myanmar is hindered by inefficient postproduction management and inadequate facilities, resulting in high postharvest (PH) losses and low-quality grains that affect farmers’ income. Initiatives to spread technology options and build capacity of different stakeholders are being led by various projects at IRRI. These include the CORIGAP Project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
and projects funded by the United Nations Office for Project Services and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. These projects focus on stakeholders in the Ayeyarwaddy Region and Central Dry Zone, where more than half of Myanmar’s rice supply is sourced.

Technology demonstrations

Technologies such as the solar bubble dryer (SBD) and flatbed dryer (FBD) were demonstrated in Myanmar. The SBD is a new and portable alternative to dry grains, which uses the sun’s energy even during overcast days and at night. Another drying technology that has been researched and used in other countries
is the FBD. It is a 1-ton-capacity airtight storage system that protects grains from deterioration and quality loss.
Postharvest specialists Yan Lin Aung and Christopher Cabardo explain the principles of the solar bubble dryer. 

IRRI postharvest staff demonstrated these technologies in Maubin, Labutta, Bogale, and Daik-Oo townships to over 200 participants in separate events from November 2013 to April 2014. They were farmers, IRRI staff , staff from local and international nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and government staff from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Research. The events featured discussions
on principles of grain quality, drying,and hermetic storage to help participants understand PH techniques to produce good-quality grain. They also learned how to operate the equipment correctly.

Participants also provided the feedback needed to assess technology adaption measures in the communities.
The SBD is currently in the testing and development stage, where feedback such as those coming from Myanmar can help further improve the technology.

“These are simple technologies that can be promoted and integrated into existing programs of the other
organizations that aim to increase farmers’ productivity,” Martin Gummert, CORIGAP’s postharvest expert said.

In the coming months, Engr. Gummert and his team will continue to conduct training and technological
demonstrations in the major rice-producing areas in Myanmar. The team will also complete the postharvest loss assessment trials and farm-level adaptive trials of IRRI Super Bags, a 50-kilogram capacity airtight storage bag, in the near future.
Martin Gummert, IRRI postharvest expert, shows the trainees how to install solar panels
of the solar bubble dryer with the right electrical wiring. Photo by Reianne Quilloy

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