PH farms being readied for competition in Southeast Asia

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MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is advancing its research and production of modern farm machineries to help make the country’s agriculture sector become competitive in the region.

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PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said during the 37th anniversary of the founding of the agency that the momentum created by the rice mechanization program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is a development showing the country’s farming sector is keeping pace with this year’s Asean economic integration. Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. PhilMech is an agency under the DA.

The mechanization level of rice farms has reached 2.3 horsepower per hectare. The theme of PhilMech’s 37th anniversary celebration is “Mechanization and Postharvest Technologies: PhilMech’s Contribution to the Asean Economic Community.”

“Thus, there is a need to find new ways to conduct research and development [R&D] to keep pace with changes in the agricultural landscape that are taking place especially now that we need to be globally competitive with the Asean integration,” Bingabing said.

To help make the country’s farming sector competitive in view of the Asean integration, PhilMech is employing the “Agrinnovation” approach for its R&D activities.

Bingabing explained Agrinnovation is an approach where “lacking technologies will be designed while available technologies are adapted to fit the system.”

“We adapt, adopt, localize, revise, re-engineer, retrofit or contextualize available gadgets, machineries, equipment, facilities, systems, processes and instruments to make faster and more appropriate [R&D] results,” he added.

With this approach, PhilMech was able to develop faster postharvest and mechanized production technologies for commodities such as coffee, cacao, soybean, cashew, mango, banana and very recently coconut.

“We need to adapt certain technologies to suit or fit the soil, terrain, cropping patterns and agronomic characteristics of plants and other factors inherent to local situations,” Bingabing said.

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