• PhilMech bats for increased farm mechanization

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    A bureau of the Department of Agriculture over the weekend declared that it is keen on raising the mechanization levels of farms in the country to more than two horsepower per hectare (hp/ha) in the next three years.

    The projection by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) was set to allow the country’s agricultural production to catch up with other Asian countries.

    PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said that the goal is almost double the 1.25hp/ha based on last year’s survey and four times than the 0.52hp/ha recorded in the 1990s.

    “It seems that agriculture mechanization in the country had been concentrated on land preparation. In the past two years, we are pushing for the promotion of rice transplanters and combined harvesters,” Bingabing told farmers in a gathering.

    By the end of 2016, he said the highest level of farm power available would be 2hp/ha but 3hp/ha is attainable.

    Bingabing admitted that the country is still behind some of its Asian neighbors.

    Asia’s farm mechanization leaders are Japan with 7hp/ha, South Korea 4.11hp/ha, China 4.10hp/ha, and Vietnam 1.56hp/ha.

    According to Bingabing, only 50 percent of farmers use machinery in land preparation, less than five percent in planting and 10 percent for harvest and post harvest activities.

    He added that in rice and corn production, only land preparation and threshing are done with the use of machines operated by farmers. Milling operations, which are usually run by large investors, are highly mechanized.

    The low mechanization level, according to him, means that animals and farm laborers are doing many farm operations, which is more costly and takes more time to complete a task.

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