Farm mechanization advocates to get more resources in 2014 budget | Inquirer Business

Farm mechanization advocates to get more resources in 2014 budget

/ 05:00 AM November 25, 2013

Advocates of the greater use of machinery in farms have a golden opportunity in 2014 to tout the benefits of mechanization, if the expected increase in the budget of the Department of Agriculture delivers the desired results.

To fund its mechanization efforts for next year, the DA has proposed an allotment of P3.1 billion.

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The amount is more than twice the P1.5 billion for 2014 as indicated in the medium-term farm mechanization roadmap for 2011-2016.

In the annual budget for the previous two years, the mechanization program received funds that were less than planned.

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In 2012, the budget was P2.6 billion instead of P3.4 billion. This year, the allotment was P2.5 billion instead of P3.6 billion.

For next year, the proposed budget is meant to cover the cost of 5,698 units of hand tractors, four-wheel tractors, threshers, drum seeders, combine harvesters, mini combines, reapers and seed cleaners.

For post-harvest activities, the budget also covers 744 units of mechanical dryers, multi-purpose drying pavements and rice milling systems for farmers and private millers.

More than a hundred agricultural engineers and other experts in rice production and mechanization gathered at the DA headquarters, in part to push for a more vigorous promotion and adoption of farm machines.

For the Asia Rice Foundation, which held its Annual Rice Forum last Friday, timeliness of farm operations, which the use of machinery offers, make mechanization economical considering that typhoons and excessive rains threaten crops year after year.

The government acknowledges mechanization as a key component and crucial requisite in attaining the country’s goal of self-sufficiency in food production.

Also, according to the Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the widespread use of machinery in agriculture was one of the factors credited for building industrialized economies in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China.

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Based on 2011 data, PhilMech puts the Philippines’ agricultural mechanization level at 1.2 horsepower per hectare overall.

For rice and corn farms only, mechanization level was pegged at 2.3 hp/ha.

Still, these numbers are among the lowest in Southeast Asia which is home to some of the world’s top producers of rice such as Thailand and Vietnam.

In a paper delivered at the forum, PhilMech director Rex Bingabing said the mechanization program is aimed at raising farmers income by some 15 percent.

This is deemed possible with an expected increase in yield and decrease in production cost as well as tapping other sources of income from value-adding activities like processing.

In particular, mechanization is expected to reduce grains loss during harvesting, piling and threshing from 5 percent to less than 3 percent, and during drying from 6 percent to less than 2 percent.

Another expected benefit of mechanization of raising grain recovery during milling to at least 65 percent. In traditional practices, farmers recover as low half the volume and—from what is recovered—lose 6 percent.

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TAGS: 2014 budget, DA headquarters, Department of Agriculture, farm, Farm Mechanism, Farms
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