Value-added rice products – A solution for paddy crisis: NCE

3 November 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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With a bumper harvest of rice in the last Maha season, Sri Lanka faced a severe crisis in regard to storage of paddy resulting in the inability by the Paddy Marketing Board and related state institutions to purchase paddy from farmers under the guaranteed price scheme of the government. This necessitated the emergency commissioning of other available storage facilities including a building in Mattala International Airport. With the following Yala crop, the crisis was expected to deepen.

It has therefore become necessary to find a medium to long-term solution to the problem, as the inadequate storage capacity of paddy will continue in the future as well. In this regard, it is noteworthy that other rice producing countries have gone into value-added products out of rice such as ‘rice bran oil’, which is an edible oil rich in nutrients, while Sri Lanka still processes rice in the same traditional manner, using the end product only as a staple food. 

Production of value-added products with rice as a base is an area with high potential. Rice bran could be used for the production of rice bran oil as well as oleoresins. Further, value addition could be carried out to produce vitamins, vanillin, etc., with the end products mostly solids. 

It is known that most research institutions in Sri Lanka, although having the necessary human capital and technological capacities, have so far failed to carry out research with a link to industry to commercialize their research. For instance, it has been pointed out that the Agriculture Department, which has a large number of researchers, still produces agricultural products in the traditional manner, rice being an example.  

On the other hand, it is known that the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) is different from other research institutes where the researches have made a number of breakthrough inventions and are looking for viable and productive linkages with industry for practical use of their findings, to produce commercially viable products.  

In this context, it is suggested that researchers in the Agriculture Department and ITI should collaborate for an integrated approach to research to ensure a medium to long-term solution to the lack of storage capacity of future paddy crops, by encouraging the establishment of commercially viable processing facilities to produce value-added products such as those mentioned above. Such an approach will also result in higher foreign exchange earnings through the export of the value-added products by acquiring the required technologies and creating additional employment opportunities as well. 
 (This is an opinion piece sent to Mirror Business by the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCESL)
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