DA bats for higher budget to mechanize farms
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is firming up its push for a budget of some P4 billion for its farm mechanization initiatives in 2015 amid efforts to lower the cost of production and postharvest losses.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the amount was part of the DA’s proposed spending program totaling P51.7 billion next year.
The planned budget covers the DA itself, as well as its attached agencies and corporations, including the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Alcala said that, for next year, DA has earmarked P4.16 billon for agri-fishery machinery, equipment and support services.
The DA’s 2015 budget is still up for approval at the House of Representatives and at the Senate, he said.
The government aims to raise the level of mechanization to 2.3 horsepower per hectare overall and to 4 hp/ha for rice farms alone, Alcala said.
According to PhilMech, in 2012, mechanization was at 1.23 hp/ha overall and 2.5 hp/ha for rice areas.
The agriculture chief said that, through PhilMech, makers of farm machines have designed harvesters and planters that can be connected to a tractor, eliminating the need to buy a new separate unit.
“Other PhilMech innovations include a compact corn mill with a milling capacity of 250 kilograms per hour, a 10-row onion planters for higher planting density and direct seeding, a cassava digger for easier harvesting, and a coco water pasteurizer for cleaner and faster extraction of coconut water.
In July, Alcala said the DA was banking on farm mechanization to help bring national rice output to yet another record level as the country braces for more typhoons expected in the coming months.
Back then, Alcala said, machines like the combine harvester “could be what we need to reach the targeted rice harvest this year of more than 19 million metric tons, and eventually achieve rice self-sufficiency.”
The so-called combine integrates reaping, threshing and winnowing into a single process, achieving in as little as an hour what human laborers take several days to accomplish using hand tools.
Alcala said combines could spell the difference between a disaster and a harvest, as what happened when Typhoon “Glenda” struck in early July.
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