|3.0 hp/ha for rice/corn farms by 2016|
|Written by DA-PhilMech|
|Friday, 27 June 2014 04:22|
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is confident that the mechanization level of rice and corn farms in the Philippines will increase by 1 horsepower per hectare to 3.0 hp/ha by 2016 from the 2.0 hp/ha recorded at the end of 2012.
PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing said that the mechanization level of rice and corn farms in the Philippines is slowly climbing, with 2.0 hp/ha recorded at the end of 2012, and 2.31 hp/ha at the end of 2013.
“Three hp/ha is doable by the 2016, because the government through the Department of Agriculture has set an investment of P2.485 billion for rice mechanization this year, and P769.16 million for corn mechanization also for this year. There is also increasing interest among rice and corn farmers to mechanize their various operations,” he added.
For 2015, PhilMech has set an investment of P2.767 billion for rice mechanization, and P1.489 billion for corn mechanization. The figures solely cover the acquisition of machines for qualified farmer organizations under an ongoing scheme where the organization shoulders 15 percent of the cost of a machinery, and 85 percent will be shouldered by the government.
Bingabing said that increasing farm mechanization of rice and corn farms in the Philippines will lower the cost of production of the two commodities over the long term, and address the issue of aging farmers which is slowly causing a labor shortfall in many areas in the country.
Citing findings of a recent study by PhilMech on the state of farm mechanization level of rice and corn farmers in the Philippines, Bingabing said that, “Most rice farmers were within 40 to 59 age bracket although high percentage of farmers with age 60 years and older were noted in Camarines Sur and Iloilo.”
“If the level of farm mechanization in rice and corn farms reach a threshold of 3.0 hp/ha, that can attract more young people into farming because the younger generation will realize that working in a farm is not all about putting out a lot of hard physical labor under the sun,” he added.
A joint study by PhilMech and the University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB) revealed that 22 percent of farms covered by a survey in 2013 experienced labor shortage during the peak planning and harvesting period.
“Planting and harvesting activities typically constitute 63 percent of the total labor requirement of 45.4 man-days per hectare,” the study said.
Alongside increasing farm mechanization in rice and corn farms in the Philippines is the shortening of PhilMech is its research and development (R&D) activities on farm machineries to six months to one year, from the previous three to five years.
“With the faster research and development for farm machineries, PhilMech can commercialize farm machineries applicable for local conditions in a shorter period that will greatly benefit small Filipino farmers,” Bingabing said.
Under the new R&D approach of PhilMech, the following machineries were developed by the agency: Tractor-mounted transplanter; Tractor-mounted combine harvester; Onion seeder; Compact village corn mill; Brown rice huller; Cassava digger; and Granulated cassava belt dryer.
Bingabing said that the tractor-mounted combine harvester developed by PhilMech can help reduce the labor required for harvesting and threshing. The small combine harvester attached to a hand tractor can harvest and thresh palay (unmilled rice) from one hectare of land in three man-hours.
On the other hand, it takes 20 man-hours to harvest and thresh palay from one hectare of land under the old system of hand harvesting and threshing separately by machine. One man-hour is equivalent to an output of one worker in eight hours.
Meanwhile, it takes only one man-day for an imported combine harvester to harvest and thresh palay from one hectare of land. However, a combine harvester costs from P1.5 million to P2 million. The small combine harvester that PhilMech is developing can be priced at around P300,000 inclusive of the cost of a hand tractor.
Bingabing said that there are still “pockets of resistance” against rice and corn mechanization in some parts of the country. For example, in a few localities in Nueva Ecija, the use of the combine harvester has been criticized by farm workers who have complained they lost their livelihood because the use of that farm machine.
But based on PhilMech studies, the use of a combine harvester has resulted to more earnings for owners and/or operators of rice farms. Under the traditional method of harvesting by hand and threshing by machine, a group of farm laborers demand 14 percent of palay harvests as payment for their services.When a farm owner or operator (who are usually farmers) hires a combine harvester with a crew of two to three, the payment for harvesting and threshing is only 8 percent of the palay harvests. (DA-PhilMech Communication Team)
Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy
Director, Applied Communication Division, PhilMech
Contact No.: 0949-408-5365
|Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 04:23|