TO help address the need for skilled maintenance of farm equipment in rural areas, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has started training a pool of farm machine mechanics.
Thirty trainees recently finished an intensive, hands-on training course on the operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of small farm engines and motorcycles at the Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT), Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, where PhilMech, an agency under the Department of Agriculture, is also based.
The trainees were mostly PhilMech agricultural engineers who provide various technical frontline services nationwide. This was the first of five batches of the Mekanikong Magsasaka (Farmer Mechanic) Program of PhilMech in collaboration with PhilSCAT, Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors (AMMDA), and the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Super Trade Machineries Global Inc., representing AMMDA, provided the engines, tools, lectures and hands-on demonstrations for the course. TESDA-Nueva Ecija also conducted the practical assessment of the participants for technician level (NC-II) certification on the last day of the training.
Prior to the recent batch of 30, 86 farmer technicians from four batches in Luzon were similarly trained under the original Barrio Mechanic training program of PhilSCAT. The program was relaunched as Mekanikong Magsasaka with expanded nationwide coverage.
“The program aims to produce a pool of technically competent farm technicians who can readily attend to repair, maintenance, and troubleshooting issues of small farm engines in remote areas such as those used for small-scale irrigation, tractors, threshers, planters and the like,” PhilMech said in a statement.
Speaking from his experience as a practicing farmer, PhilMech Director Arnel Ramir Apaga, head of the research and technical operations cluster of PhilMech as well as concurrent assistant director and chief of the Knowledge Management Division of PhilSCAT, said there are challenges of using second-hand, single-cylinder engines in mechanizing operations in many remote farms which do not have access to repair shops in town centers. He added that technicians from machinery manufacturers and distributors are currently lacking and not readily available for dispatch.