PHL farm mechanization level at least 1 hp/ha

THE farm mechanization level in the Philippines is slowly climbing, but much more needs to be done to modernize the country’s agriculture sector.

Philippine Center for Mechanization and Postharvest Development (PhilMech) Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing said that based on the initial results of the survey conducted from the early part of the current year by PhilMech, the farm mechanization level of the Philippines is at least 1.0 horsepower per hectare (hp/ha).

“It could be 1.20 hp/ha overall, and even higher for rice farms at 1.60hp/ha. The last official figure from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics was 0.52 hp/ha, but that data dates back to the 1990s,” he said.

Bingabing said that the new survey on the country’s farm mechanization level covers the period 2007 to 2012, and is based on number of farm machineries sold and deployed during the same period.

However, the PhilMech director said that in so far as Southeast Asia is concerned, the Philippines ranks very low compared to its neighbors. If there is any consolation, the Philippines is slightly ahead of Myanmar in farm mechanization.

Bingabing was invited to the First International Conference on Agricultural Machinery and Rice Production held at Thailand during the last week of November. During the conference, which was attended by representatives from Southeast Asia, the PhilMech director said that he realized how much catching up the Philippines has to do in terms of farm mechanization.

The conference was held to get an idea on how rice production has progressed in the Southeast Asian region.

“It is only now and during the past few years that farm mechanization is being taken seriously by government,” Bingabing added, pointing to the efforts being spearheaded by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to disperse various farm machineries up to 2016.

When it comes to farm mechanization in Asia, among the leaders are Japan with 7hp/ha, South Korea 4.11 hp/ha, China 4.10 hp/ha, and Vietnam 1.56 hp/ha. Bingabing added that Thailand may already have a higher farm mechanization level than the Philippines, while Indonesia and Malaysia are also ahead.

He noted that Indonesia’s farm mechanization efforts started in the 1950s.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s farm mechanization level was pegged at 1.02 hp/ha, and India 1.0hp/ha.

With the current farm mechanization level efforts of the Aquino administration, Bingabing said that the country can increase its farm mechanization level to around 1.5 hp/ha and even higher for rice farms, by 2016.

Based on the old figure of 0.52 hp/ha, the PhilMech director in June this year projected that the farm mechanization level of the country could reach 0.70 to 0.80 hp/ha with the current agriculture programs of the Aquino administration. This projection was made during the MakinaSaka 2012.

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