PhilMech to distribute more rice machines in 2013

THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) will distribute this year more farm machinery to support the Aquino administration’s bid for rice self-sufficiency.

“PhilMech has been solidly behind the Aquino administration in making the Philippines self-sufficient in rice by programming and coordinating the distribution of farm machineries under the Department of Agriculture’s Rice Mechanization Program,” PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing said, noting that 2013 is the National Year of Rice.

In 2012, PhilMech coordinated the distribution of 193 mechanical driers; 637 hand tractors; 58 four-wheel tractors; 423 palay threshers; 36 rice mills (all types); 23 rice drum seeders; 97 rice reapers; 156 rice cutters/harvesters; and 80 rice combine harvesters.

For this year, PhilMech will coordinate the distribution of 278 mechanical driers; 652 hand tractors; 99 four-wheel tractors; 483 palay threshers; 9 rice mills (all types); 418 rice drum seeders; rice reapers; 322 rice cutters/harvesters; and 76 rice combine harvesters.

In addition, PhilMech will coordinate this year the distribution of 22 medium multi-crop combine harvesters; 42 mini rice combine harvesters; 75 pedal-powered rice threshers; 215 power tillers with floating trailers; and 750 fertilizer spreaders.

The cost of the machines for distribution to rice farmers  through irrigators’ associations this year will be covered by the P2.45-billion 2013 budget the Department of Agriculture (DA) has programmed for farm mechanization.

Under an existing program of the DA, the government shoulders 85% of the cost of farm machines and postharvest equipment that are dispersed to qualified farmer organizations like irrigators’ associations. The 15% is shouldered by the qualified farmer group.

Bingabing said that the goal of mechanizing palay (unmilled rice) planting operations, specifically land preparation, planting and harvesting, is to increase output by at around 5%. On the other hand, reducing postharvest losses can potentially add another 5% to palayouput at the farm level.

“If we can increase palay production by 10% by fully addressing mechanization and postharvest issue, this would greatly help the country attain rice self-sufficiency,” the PhilMech director said.

He added that the mechanization of rice planting will reduce the drudgery in the areas of land preparation, planting and harvesting, and help farmers cope with the effects of climate change.

On the level of farm mechanization in the Philippines on rice farms, Bingabing said that is possibly around 1.60 horsepower per hectare, which is higher than the average for all farms which is 1 hp/ha.

PhilMech is currently undertaking a survey on farm mechanization. The agency will also continue its support to other crops like corn, vegetables, coconut, cocoa and coffee, among others.

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