Philippines’ Leyte Rice Considered 3rd Best in the World


Renucci Rice has been recognized as the third best at the World Rice Conference held recently at Makati Shangri-La, making it the first Filipino company to win at the World Best Rice Contest, ranking just behind Thailand and Vietnam.

When typhoon Haiyan struck the country in 2013, images of the devastation found their way all over the world, being one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded.

When husband and wife Patrick François Renucci and Rachel Renucci-Tan, then living in Paris, saw photos of the destruction, they both felt they needed to do something to help the people of Leyte, the hardest-hit province. Patrick used to own and operate one of the largest printing companies in France while Rachel used to run a real estate investment management company in Hong Kong and London. “When we saw the images in the newspapers, we said to ourselves ‘we need to do something,” shared Patrick.

They felt they would really be able to help if they could provide a post-typhoon livelihood to the people of Leyte, deciding to leave Paris and move to Alangalang, Leyte. In an interview with The Star, the couple said they decided to invest in a rice business in Leyte to help the farmers, creating Renucci Rice.

They put up the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center (RPC), which they claimed is the most technologically advanced in Southeast Asia. RPC is a fully automated facility that covers the entire rice production process. It is centralized and operated from touchscreen panels in a single control room.

Palay or unhusked rice is stored in various temperature-controlled wet bins before and after drying by multiple high-powered biomass dryers in order to maintain its freshness. Palay is then stored in silos with temperature held constant at 21 degrees, keeping it freshly harvested for more than a year.

The palay is electronically weighed to avoid cheating and is pre-cleaned before drying to guarantee clean and pest-free dried paddies, ready for state-of-the-art milling.

The RPC 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.

Chen Yi produces delicious, aromatic, clean, pesticide-free rice for the market. Palay is sourced from Leyte’s rice farmers — unmixed, pure, and all-natural. The company provides farmers with high-quality locally produced inbred seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs, including end-to-end mechanization to increase their yield while controlling the quality of their palay.

Chen Yi is the first fully integrated and sustainable rice business of this scale in the Philippines, with Leyte having already been a top rice-producing region in the country.

Rachel said with their trailblazing model — getting directly from farmers and removing the middlemen who only wittingly or unwittingly leave farmers in debt — they can achieve their goal. “This is breaking them free from the cycle of debt and it increases farmers’ productivity,” she said.

Rachel is optimistic the model will work and can even be replicated in other rice-producing regions all over the country.