Why is it important?
Postharvest operations in rice begin when the panicle is separated from the rice plant at harvest. However, harvesting is often considered the starting point of the postharvest management process. The quality of milled rice does not only depend on the postharvest management practices but also on pre-harvest or on-farm practices. Producing high quality milled rice therefore does not depend entirely on getting few production operations right but rather, getting every production operation from choice of seeds to type of packaging right. Errors in any of these operations will result in postharvest losses, which might be quantitative or qualitative. Although postharvest losses throughout the production chain of rice can hardly be zero, making the right choices, doing the right things at the right time and using the most appropriate procedures and equipment can significantly reduce postharvest losses to acceptable levels.
Postharvest operations in rice are the various handling, treatment, packaging and storage methods that the rice grain undergoes before consumption. In this site, focus will be on the following postharvest operations; threshing, cleaning, drying, parboiling, milling, grading, processing into rice based products, by-product utilization and storage. Unlike in fruits and vegetable where the quality of the fresh produce can only be maintained after harvest, the quality of rice can actually be improved after harvest especially if the paddy sample is a pure cultivar, clean and not diseased. Proper parboiling of this type of paddy improves significantly the quality of the milled rice compared to the non-parboiled counterpart. Rice parboiling thus provides an opportunity for the transformation of low quality paddy from farmer’s fields in sub-Saharan African countries to good quality milled rice but this must be accompanied by good drying, milling, grading, packaging, storage and marketing operations.