President Rodrigo R. Duterte inaugurated night the PHP1.7 billion privately-owned rice processing complex of Chen Yi-Agventures, targeting to modernize farming in 10,000 hectares of rice fields in Leyte province.
The President said he feels sentimental seeing the complex operating in a poverty-stricken rice-producing area of the province. The facility, owned by Italian Patrick Renucci and his wife Rachel Tan, was built in Mudburon village, Alangalang, Leyte, some 24 km. away from Tacloban City.
“This project is a testament to our commitment to find more ways to actively respond to the various problems and challenges confronting the agricultural industry. Complex that we are taking initiatives to sustain our rice supply and ensure food security for our nation,” the President said in his 38-minute speech.
Duterte is planning to tap the commitment and expertise of Renucci to build a similar facility in Mindanao and other rice granaries in the country.
“Really, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if we can work together, if you want to stay in the Philippines, and I said considering the amount that you have invested… I’m not that rich but I can give you another (PHP)1.5 billion to do your thing,” he told Renucci.
The Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center is one of the most technologically advanced in Southeast Asia. Fully automated, the entire production process is centralized and operated from touch screen panels in a single control room.
Palay (unhusked rice) is stored in various temperature-controlled wet bins before and after drying by multiple high-powered biomass dryers to maintain its freshness. Palay is then stored in silos with temperature held constant at 21 degrees, keeping the palay freshly harvested for more than a year.
Renucci explained that palay is electronically weighed to avoid cheating. It is pre-cleaned before drying to guarantee clean and pest-free dried paddies, ready for state-of-the art milling.
The company deploys Japanese technology that purifies the air emitted into its dust room, purging dust and dirt from the drying and milling process so that only clean air is blown out into the environment.
“Leveraging technology and meticulous, technically precise sorting of seed varieties, Chen Yi delivers delicious, aromatic, clean, pest and pesticide-free rice to the Filipino people,” Renucci said.
The Renucci couple used to live in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower from their home. Patrick used to own and operate large printing firms in France. Rachel founded a real estate investment fund management company based in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and London, advising, restructuring and managing assets of more than a billion US dollars.
“After Super Typhoon Yolanda, we realized it was time to give back and also to revolutionize. Not in Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai or London, but in Leyte where impoverished, debt-ridden farmers emerged hopeless from the ravages of the typhoon,” he said.
Since 2016, Chen Yi has been extending loans for seeds at zero interest to farmers in the area, fertilizers at very low interest rates & equipment and machinery services payable upon harvest. (PNA)
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