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Post production systems for Asian rice farming

The common denominator of rice farming in Asia is the small land holding, ranging from a fraction of a hectare to a maximum of 5 hectares per farmer household. In the aggregate, Asia is the major producer and consumer of rice as a staple food. World rice statistics indicate that about 92% of the world's total production of rice is produced in Asia, and it contains about 90% of the world's rice fields. An individual farmer household with a small land holding does not have the economic means to own and operate post production facilities. There are many arrangements or models followed in handling the paddy after harvest. In some countries like Vietnam they have rice farm estates where a central management group orchestrates the activities of the farmers who have their farm lots inside the estate. Management develops the infrastructure including the irrigation system, and roads, provides the technology, seeds, production inputs, and the post-production and marketing services. The farmers concentrate on crop establishment and care. In Taiwan and the Philippines, the feudal rice estates of landlords have been divided by land reform programmes and awarded to the farmer tenants. However, in Taiwan, they have succeeded in forming farmer associations to provide for the farming and post-production needs. Where no associations or central management groups exist, "small" farmers operate independently. It will be shown later, how small independent farmers tend to become subsistence farmers.

Small land-holdings require a different type and level of mechanization. Machines have been adopted where farm labour has become scarce or too expensive. But because machines require some economy of scale to be financially viable, some farmers have become entrepreneurs. They invest in farm machines such as threshers or combines and provide services to other farmers. Services are paid in kind, with a percentage of the harvest.

Small land holdings where farmers work independently require a post-production approach different from typical Western systems. The harvested paddy comes in small batches of varying moisture content and purity. The proliferation of new crop varieties compounds the problem of grading and segregating in-coming grain. Thus large continuous flow systems designed to receive large volumes of rice of the same variety, with almost uniform moisture content, are not appropriate for Asian countries.

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