PHilMech rolls out mechanical onion seeder

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MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: A 10-Row Onion Mechanical Seeder (10-ROMS) is set to be commercialized as the first new farm mechanization technology to be officially launched under President Duterte’s administration.

Dr. Dionisio Alvindia, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) Executive Director, said Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol asked the agency to commercialize the 10-ROMS for onion farmers within this year.

Piñol has also asked PhilMech’s scientists and researchers, who have already subjected the machine to exhaustive field trials and validations, to make sure it meets the needs of farmers of the crop.

Alvindia said PHilMech launched the 10-ROMS on the agency’s 39th anniversary on May 24, and described it as a product of the ingenuity of the agency’s scientists, engineers, and research and technical personnel.

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“This is a product of the agency’s current advocacy called ‘stakeholder-driven RDE’ where we get as much inputs from the intended users of a farm machinery being developed by the agency,” Alvindia said.

He explained that the stakeholder-driven RDE [research development and extension]also involves innovating current farm machinery technologies to suit local conditions, which eventually translates to faster development and commercialization of technologies by PHilMech.

PhilMech’s study results show that the mechanical seeder can increase yield by 2-2.5 metric tons (MT) per hectare and can reduce production cost.

Alvindia said that the use of 10-ROMS can give additional income of about P60,800 per hectare compared to the broadcasting method of direct seeding.

”When compared to direct seeding using 2-row mechanical seeder, the use of 10-ROMS can give additional income of about P12,000 per hectare from increase in yield,” he said.

PHilMech estimates the yield of onion farms in the country from 10 to 16 MT per hectare.

Because of higher planting density, Alvindia said, the volume of seeds by using the 10-ROMS is higher by five cans of seeds, or up to 11 cans per hectare or 4.9 kilograms of seeds per hectare.

He said the higher plant population is translated to higher yield and income.

Attached to a two-wheel tractor, onion farmers prefer the 10-ROMS and it is increasing in numbers in the rural areas because of their affordability and ease of use.

A two-wheel tractor and a 10-ROMS combination costs P240,000.

PhilMech’s field trials and validations also showed that if farmers’ cooperatives operated the 10-ROMS for 30 days for six hours per day at a service fee of P2,000 per hectare, the cooperatives could recover their investments in four cropping seasons.

Alvindia said that aside from the 10-ROMS, PHilMech has developed a rubberized conveyor for onion sorting, which can reduce the drudgery and difficulty of sorting onions.

It has a capacity of 800-900 sacks per day for red Creole onion, and 900-1,000 sacks per day for yellow Granex onion. Powered by one-horsepower electric motor, it can be operated by 16 persons or fewer.

“PHiMech is very much committed to developing technologies for crops like onion, coffee, cacao, banana, cassava and other widely-grown crops in the Philippines,” Alvindia said.

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