Product line 4.1. Technologies and business models to improve rice postharvest practices, processing, and marketing


Modernization of the postharvest sector has not kept pace with increased production and new problems caused by additional harvests during the wet season. Postharvest losses in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa of up to 30% are caused by spillage and grain loss in all postharvest processes, losses to animals and pests, contamination (for example, by mycotoxins), and inefficient rice mills. In addition to physical loss, inappropriate postharvest management practices, delays caused by labor shortage, outdated postharvest equipment, and low operator skills lead to losses in quality, thus reducing the market price of milled rice by 10–30%. In all regions, farmers are often forced to sell immediately after harvest because of indebtedness, inability to dry, or poor on-farm storage. At harvest time, freshly harvested paddy swamps the markets, driving down prices so that farmers cannot maximize their returns by timing their sales. Moreover, limited market information prevents market-oriented production. Previous interventions in postharvest often focused on component technology development and did not consider nontechnical support service needs for adoption and uptake by farmers and rural processors such as extension, financing, marketing assistance, etc. These groups lack the necessary knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and resources to source and apply technologies to improve income by reducing losses and increase income by adding value. Business models for farmers can enable farmers and processors to link to these resources and apply postharvest technologies as small entrepreneurs.


(1) Initiation of sustainable postharvest networks embracing key postharvest stakeholders for identifying national impact pathways, establishing baselines, planning and implementing interventions, studying adoption and impact, and engaging policy. (2) Development, adaptation, optimization and participatory verification of harvesters, dryers, threshers, mills, storage systems, village-level quality assessment tools, and postharvest management options. (3) Development of business models, market information systems (MIS), and networks for exchanging and disseminating market information more efficiently. (4) Piloting linking farmers to markets and to micro-finance through NGO and private-sector channels. (5) Developing and verifying low-cost mycotoxin detection technology. (6) Development and testing of training packages for postharvest technologies and business models.


  4.1.1 Improved technologies and management options to increase postharvest yield
  4.1.2 Business models for postharvest technologies and tools for improved rice market information systems
  4.1.3 Postharvest practices for reduced mycotoxin contamination of milled rice
  4.1.4 Institutional and organizational innovations enabling greater access to output markets for smallholder farmers


4.1.1. Partners for research on and developing new and improved postharvest management options and technologies include advanced research institutes, national research institutions, and national universities, and, in some cases, private manufacturers. The technology verification and adaptation to local conditions are done in partnerships with key users through participatory research trials supported by the same national research institutions and universities that are engaged in the development. Some NGOs and private-sector entities such as local manufacturers also engage in adaptive R&D. Since multiple channels are used for dissemination of the research results, the partners for out-scaling include national extension systems, private-sector extension agents, final users’ associations, and NGOs with their grass-roots networks. Out-scaling is supported by working with policy institutions to generate favorable frameworks, and by linking with financing institutions such as banks and micro-credit schemes, stakeholders can have better access to markets.

4.1.2. The development and upgrading of business models for piloting and sustained adoption of postharvest technologies will involve a wide range of cross-sector actors. Research partners from government institutes and universities will assist in identifying appropriate technologies and piloting, as well as monitoring and feedback. Other partners, such as local technology producers, retailers, and after-sales service providers with necessary linkages to postharvest chain actors, including farmer organizations, processors, and trading intermediaries, will be fostered. Partnerships with disseminators of market information, training, and additional support services delivered by public and private extension networks, NGOs, and local civil society organizations (CSOs) will also be leveraged, including the development of innovative tools and methods for improving market information systems.

4.1.3 Surveys of postharvest management practices in the field and gathering of samples are facilitated in partnership with farmers’ organizations, local government units, and agricultural and extension agencies. Research partners will analyze gathered samples for mycotoxin content. New management options and validated technologies for minimizing mycotoxin contamination will be disseminated through learning alliance networks and local adapters.

4.1.4 Information and learning materials will be developed in partnership with Regional Economic Communities and NARES partners and disseminated to farmers, processors, and agents of agricultural extension services and CSOs. Participatory learning and action research (PLAR) methods will be applied with partners to facilitate institutional and organizational innovations enabling greater access to output markets for smallholder farmers and for reaching larger domestic urban markets with higher-quality local rice. Cooperation and collective action between and among local rice farmers, parboilers, millers, and traders will be stimulated, and partnerships will be forged with regional institutions across sub-Saharan Africa to establish a framework to develop and improve regional rice policy and outreach.

Uptake and impact pathway

The products will be developed and out-scaled through a rice postharvest, processing, and marketing task force in Africa and outreach programs of IRRI in Asia (IRRC, CURE, CSISA) that involve national postharvest networks with stakeholders from the private and public sector (e.g., traders’ and millers’ associations, NGOs, farmers’ organizations), but also support for postharvest programs of other investors (e.g., the World Bank-funded Agricultural Competitiveness Project in Vietnam). Partnerships with NGOs will be strengthened for linking farmers to markets and micro-finance. The next users, who conduct local adaptation work, are in national research systems, while important intermediate users include NGOs and private-sector producers of postharvest equipment. The final users of that equipment are processors. Through theme 6, co-investments will be explored to out-scale innovations in collaboration with development partners (e.g., ADB, AfDB, IFAD, CARD). 

Financing strategy

Current investments include bilateral grants from ADB (US$0.6 million/year until mid-2011) and SDC-IRRC ($40,000/year until 2012). Reaching $2 million/year within 2 years is necessary to have significant impact. Initial funding for the work in Africa has been sought from CIDA.

Box 13. Impact example for product 4.3.1. Rice dryers in SE-Asia

Impact pathways of the dryers in SE Asia have not been linear and have involved many actors at different points of time as the case of Vietnam shows. Interactions between countries were very important for incremental innovations in the dryer development and therefore it is difficult to look at only national impact pathways. Vietnam is far ahead with dryer usage with dryer capacity in the Mekong Delta installed for drying around 30% of the crop. In Cambodia, Lao and Myanmar dryers were introduced in 2005 and with more favorable markets for better quality, already proven technical solutions and improved delivery platforms we can expect an accelerated introduction compared to the process that started in the 1980s in Vietnam and is still ongoing there.

International research contributed initial prototypes (mid 1970s), new concepts such as the automatic rice husk furnace (1997), and drying principles like low temperature drying when these were needed to further develop the technology based on users needs and more   recently facilitation of the transfer of proven technologies from Vietnam to neighboring countries. National research institutions carried out most of the adaptive research, often in close collaboration with selected manufacturers. NLU also played an important role in the IRRI facilitated technology and know-how transfer. Since 2004 private sector actors like the MRPTA in Myanmar, rice millers associations and other market actors play an increasing role in the promotion of dryers and in providing drying services to farmers.

Future international R&D will still be needed to increase input use efficiency of dryers and quality of dried rice. In addition international institutions play an important role as an honest broker in facilitating technology transfer processes and bringing the multiple stakeholders from different sectors required for out-scaling of drying technologies together, e.g. though platforms like the learning alliances. Selected final users of dryers, in most cases drying contract service providers for farmers, millers and traders, will contribute to the adaptation and also to dissemination of the technology through their networks and associations. Since most dryers are locally produced local manufacturers are key players in the adaptive R&D but they are usually lacking know how and capacity to do the adaptive research, e.g. to adapt a fan performance to an up-sized drying bin, therefore public sector R&D and support remains essential. Private players in the marketing chain will play an increasingly important role since they can open up marketing channels for high quality rice products including specialty rice, branded rice and certified rice with labels like GAP or resource efficiency eco-labeling, which would require the use of dryers to guarantee consistently high quality. Policy is needed to pave the way for trading better quality by e.g. removing red tape in export in countries like Myanmar and Cambodia.

Countries: CAM – Cambodia; INO – Indonesia; LAO – Lao PDR; MMR – Myanmar; PHI – Philippines
Technology: FBD - Flat bed dryer; RHF - Rice husk furnace
Partners: DARD - Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam; MAFF -; Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia; MRPTA - Myanmar Rice and Paddy Traders Association; NLU - Nong Lam University, Vietnam; UPLB - University of the Philippines Los Baños, Philippines.