GEM Rice Parboiler
Rice parboiling is a process that involves partial boiling of rice in the husk before milling to protect the rice from breaking during milling, preserve nutrition and enhance quality. AfricaRice researchers have found that if it is properly carried out, rice parboiling significantly improves the physical, eating and nutritional quality of the milled rice compared to non-parboiled rice.
The demand for good quality parboiled rice is high in parts of Africa. But the traditional parboiling process is laborious, time-consuming and unsafe, producing rice with impurities, broken and burnt grains and undesirable smell. It also requires lots of firewood and water.
The process is carried out mainly by rural women in Africa.
AfricaRice and its partners have developed an improved rice parboiling technology called GEM – in short for ‘Grain quality enhancer, Energy-efficient and durable Material,’ – which produces rice of high physical and eating quality compared with the traditional technology.
The GEM is safer to operate and is equipped with hoists and rails to facilitate the lifting and moving of heavy vessels in which the paddy is steamed by women. It helps rural women produce cleaner and higher-quality rice that fetches higher price on the local market, enhancing their economic opportunities to build a better future.
Moreover, GEM is more economical than traditional methods. It enables the women to process large quantities of paddy rice in a relatively short time. It also includes an eco-friendly stove that is fed by a solar-powered fan and runs on rice husk, which is a free and abundant fuel in rice-producing areas.
The GEM parboiling technology was developed in consultation with women processors from the Glazoué Innovation Platform (IP) in Benin, to reduce drudgery, the risk of heat burns and exposure to smoke to the processors, who are mostly women.
Over 3500 women rice processors in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria and Togo have been trained in the use of the GEM rice-parboiling system. Empowered with technical knowledge and skills, they have turned rice parboiling into a profitable enterprise.
The GEM parboiling technology can be tailored to small- (20-300 kg), medium- (300-1000 kg) and large-scale (1000-3000 kg) processors. The cost of the technology will depend on the components and the scale of operation.
Women parboilers, who use the GEM technology, make an extra US$200 on every ton of rice parboiled compared to parboilers using the traditional system.
The GEM parboiling technology can achieve a higher output rate of up to 25 tons of high-quality milled rice (lighter and uniform color, absence of heat-damaged grains and impurities, low levels of broken fractions) per month.
The GEM parboiling technology reduces expenditure on firewood from 1.83 to 0.64 USD per 100 kg of paddy parboiled. When rice husk gasifier cookstoves are used, the wood cost is zero.
The GEM parboiling technology reduces the steaming time from about 60-90 min to 20-25 min per 50-100kg of paddy.
Women who use the GEM parboiling technology indicate that they do not suffer from heat burns and smoke exposure and face less difficulty in lifting loads.
The internal rate of return (IRR) of the GEM parboiling technology is 70% compared to 14% for the traditional technology.
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