DA pursues P6-B farm mechanization to increase productivity, incomes

THE Department of Agriculture is vigorously pursuing a P6-billion farm mechanization program (FMP) to further increase the productivity and incomes of small farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the DA through the national rice program has allotted P1 billion (B) last year, P2.6 B this year, and proposes another P2.4 B in 2013 — for a total of P6 B, mid-way through the implementation of FMP, from 2011 to 2016.

The amount is used to purchase various production and postharvest machinery and equipment, which the DA provides to qualified farmers groups and cooperatives, irrigators’ associations (IAs), and local government units (LGUs) under a counterparting agreement.

He said the DA aims to increase the present farm mechanization level of the Philippines, from 0.57 horsepower per hectare (hp/ha) to 0.80 hp/ha, making the country a par with Thailand and Vietnam.

The DA chief said the farm mechanization program, which is a major component of the Aquino government’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), aims to distribute thousands of units of on-farm and postharvest machinery, equipment and facilities, from 2011 to 2016.

Since 2011, the DA has procured and awarded more than 3,200 units of on-farm and postharvest machinery and equipment, including more than 510,000 pieces of laminated sacks.

The on-farm equipment includes rice drum seeders, seed cleaners, rice transplanters, power tillers with trailers, hand tractors, and mini four-wheel tractors with accessories, among others.
The postharvest machinery and equipment consists of laminated sacks, collapsible tents, hermetic cocoons, flatbed and mechanical dryers, solar dryers or multi-purpose drying pavements, palay sheds, threshers, shredders, and combine harvesters, among others.

“This is one of the strategies that we are pursuing to increase farm productivity and reduce postharvest losses,” said Secretary Alcala at a farmers’ forum in Bago City, Negros Occidental last week.

He assured them that the implementation of a farm mechanization program will not displace farm workers. In fact, he said they will have more time to engage in other livelihood opportunities or additional sources of income

“Huwag po kayong matakot, dahil lahat naman po ay makikinabang dito, (You have nothing to fear, because all will benefit from the program),” Secretary Alcala assured farmers in Negros Occidental, where the DA has allotted about P43 million for various farm machinery and equipment.

One group of recipients are members of the Negros Occidental League of Federation of Irrigators’ Associations (IAs), led by its lady president Rosemary Caunca. They received various farm machinery and equipment consisting of rice threshers, hand tractors, rice transplanters, flatbed and solar dryers, a combine rice harvester, hundreds of collapsible dryer cases, and thousands of laminated sacks.

The DA’s farm mechanization program is implemented through a counterparting scheme, where the DA shoulders 85 percent of the cost of the farm machine, while the qualified recipients pay the remaining 15 percent.


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