The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has launched a program that will certify farmer-mechanics to keep small farm equipment in the Philippines continuously operating.
According to PhilMech, the “Magsasakang Mekaniko” (Farmer Mechanic) program is expected to increase the number of certified farmer-mechanics who can provide maintenance services for the small agricultural equipment that farmers operate nationwide.
PhilMech said the program is in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Agricultural Manufacturers and Distributors Association, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the regional office of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Davao region (Region 11).
ATI and PhilMech are agencies under the Department of Agriculture.
Arnel Ramir Apaga, PhilMech program leader said the Magsasakang Mekaniko program has so far resulted in the certification of 68 individuals who have Motorcycle/Small Engine Servicing (MSES) National Certificate II, and another 29 with Certificate of Competency for Small Engine Servicing.
He said they were all trained in four batches last year when they launched the program and that PhilMech is still eyeing to increase the number of the certified farmer-mechanics to around 200 within the year.
“The training course aims to pool a core of rural agricultural machinery technicians from the ranks of farmer and other rural laborers,” Apaga said.
The Muñoz-based Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology in Nueva Ecija is also sharing its expertise for the program.
Farm equipment commonly used by small farmers are hand tractors and tillers, harvesters, and millers. These are usually powered by one-cylinder engines running on gas or diesel fuel, and some of these are even more complex than those powering smaller motorcycles.
There are local companies that already manufacture small farm equipment like hand tractors and tillers, harvesters, and millers that are powered by imported small engines.
Farm machines like tillers that prepare the soil for planting are usually subjected to a high level of stress that require such machines to be serviced by farmer-mechanics, PhilMech experts said.