The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will showcase the latest technologies in agricultural mechanization, particularly for the rice industry, at the country’s biggest agribusiness trade exhibit – Agrilink, Foodlink, and Aqualink. The internationally-recognized event will be held from October 3 to 5 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

Among the banner programs that PhilMech will showcase is its Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP). PHilMechDirector Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina said, there is an urgent need to increase the level of mechanization and improve the postharvest systems of the country’s rice industry, adding that the mechanization level stands at 2.31 hp/ha, which is relatively low compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors.  PhilMech will be holding a forum on RCEP during the event.

Based on studies by PHilMech, rice farming in the country has negligible levels of mechanization in planting, weeding, spraying, and harvesting in some regions. Notably, mechanical power is applied mostly in harvesting and land preparation, while manual transplanting is widely used as the method of planting. Furthermore, sundrying is still the method preferred by farmers to dry their palay harvests, probably because of the high prices of mechanical dyers, which underscores the need to provide such machinery to farmers.

Surveys by the agency also show a low adoption rate among Filipino farmers for four-wheel tractors, mechanical transplanters, and combine harvesters. It was noted that in Thailand and Vietnam, most farmers use the direct seeding technology, which is seen to be more efficient and less costly than the transplanting method that is widely used in the Philippines. However, the survey revealed that the Philippines has high adoption on thresher and two-wheel tractors, which means that small machines are attractive to farmers in the country.

Dr. Jallorina said the mechanization component of RCEP seeks to address the gaps in mechanization in the country’s rice farms, as it includes the distribution of larger equipment. Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the mechanization component of RCEP will be getting P5 billion per year in the next six years, or up to 2024.

“Through increased mechanization, the cost of producing palay can be reduced by R2 to R3 per kilo, and additional cost reductions can be made if rice farmers adopt higher-yielding rice varieties,” Dr. Jallorina said. Under RCEP, R3 billion would be allocated each year up to 2024 for the propagation and distribution of high-yielding seeds; R1 billion for training and capacity building of rice farmers; and R1 billion for credit support.

A PhilMech study noted the other positive effects of mechanization like the growth of local manufacturing industry and employment generation among skilled workers, as well as after-sales services for farm machines in the rural areas, which includes repair and machinery services, training of farmers, and the provision of technical assistance. Last May, PhilMech launched a regional technology management and demonstration center in Leyte, a R3-million infrastructure furnished with various farm machineries that farmers can use. In collaboration with the DA’s Regional Field Office in Region 8, the facility is ultimately designed to jumpstart the commercialization of PhilMech-invented and other suitable post-harvest and processing technologies, and provide access to information and technology services to farmers and fisherfolk in Eastern Visayas.

Citing Agrilink’s role in disseminating such information and technology to a wider reach, Dr. Jallorina pointed out, “Agrilink remains to be one of PhilMech’s effective platforms for showcasing the latest agricultural technologies we have developed. At the same time, it also serves as a venue to disseminate information, especially on the need to modernize the country’s agricultural industry and create more agribusiness enterprises.”

Agrilink 2019 is supported by the DA’s allied agencies such as theBureau of Agricultural Research, Agricultural Training Institute, DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, and 30 other major Philippine food and agribusiness organizations. The event is also in cooperation with FITCorea, the Philippine representative of Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative.

For free seminar participation, contact FRLD at (0917) 588-8799, or email frld.agrilink@gmail.com. Visitors can also pre-register their attendance through www.agrilink.org, or through its official Facebook page at facebook.com/agrilinkPH.