The Philippine Star
May 19, 2019
Thanks to its state-of-the-art technology, a rice processing complex in Leyte has been able to craft first class rice that’s fresh, pesticide-free and aromatic out of the otherwise plain-looking variety that farmers have been used to planting for many years.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Chen Yi Agventures, through its Renucci Rice Processing Center in Alang alang municipality, 24 kilomoters west-southwest of Tacloban City, hopes to develop Leyte into a big rice producer and help improve the lives of the rice farmers here.
The Renucci rice produced by the complex approximates the quality of the more expensive Japanese rice that’s when cooked – either by traditional steaming or by electric rice cooker – exudes the fragrant aroma and gentle, fluffy texture commonly associated with that of freshly harvested rice.
The best part though is that the product was made out of a cleaning-milling-polishing process using the most modern of Japanese rice technology, devoid of any chemicals.
The P1.7-billion company put up by Italian Patrick Renucci and wife Rachel Tan buys freshly harvested palay from farmers at a price higher than those offered by the usual traders. The rice plant initially subjects the tons of palay to a pre-cleaning process to remove grass, stones, stalks and other non-palay grains through a high-pressure segregating activity.
The grains are then brought by tubes and conveyor belts and dried through its computer-controlled drying facilities then cleaned again before these are sent to the milling section to remove the husks and produce the fiber-enriched rice.
These are next subjected to further cleaning and segregation to remove all remaining impurities and by-products (tiki-tiki) before sending all remaining grains to the polishing stage using a combination of heat and pressurized air.
These are next sorted into small, medium and large grains. The last part of the process is the grains cleaning, packing and pouring into 25-kilo sacks or other smaller packaging.
Should there be a surplus of new harvest, the complex stores the grains in its 30-ton capacity silos that are temperature-controlled specifically to maintain the newly harvest freshness of the palay.
At any time of the year, farmers are already assured of a better price for their harvest, even as Chen Yi also provides loans without interest to buy seeds and other farm inputs.
The Tan-Renucci couple used to be investment bankers in Europe yet decided to focus their managerial and financial expertise to help the Philippine government and the agriculture sector develop this approach for effective food security for all, most particularly the rice farmers.
They subscribe to the philosophy that farmers deserve better opportunities for growth including having access to nutritious food, particularly rice they themselves produce.
“And paying the right price for their produce ia surely a step in the right direction,” company officials said.
This early, traditional rice traders feel threatened as Chen Yi’s approach may have long-term effects on their hold on the rice farmers. For one, farmers may now readily sell their fresh palay even with still high moisture content to Chen Yi, which immediately sends its mechanical harvesters to the farms to harvest and thresh the produce in a day’s time.
Before the advent of the Chen Yi technology, farmers had to hire farm hands to harvest the palay for days aside from drying the grains under the sun for days which can get interrupted by sporadic rains.
To compliment the processing complex, Chen Yi also has a fleet of tractors, transplanters, harvesters and trucks. It intends to acquire more to hit its 2,000 hectare-production area target next year.