The way to go is to mechanize farming. This could significantly increase farm productivity. It could improve the quality of farm produce. Modern machines and equipment are needed to process harvests from the farm for added value and for greater competitiveness in the local and export markets. In other words, farm mechanization can make farming more profitable for farmers and agribusiness investors.
And that is the reason why, the Department of Agriculture has come up with a national program that enables farmers to acquire the farm machines and equipment they need. And that is also the reason why the forthcoming Agrilink trade show (October 10-12) is giving special attention to the mechanization of farm production and processing.
And one agency that will highlight the role of mechanization at the trade show is the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech). This is one agency which is playing an important role in pushing forward the mechanization of farms and processing plants of agricultural produce.
At the forthcoming Agrilink trade show, PhilMech will showcase its latest research and development projects, postharvest technologies, value-adding production systems and other innovations in common service facilities that the Department of Agriculture is advocating.
Yes, the establishment of common service facilities for farmers in different parts of the country is a new thrust of the Department of Agriculture. The DA, for instance, has come up with its Rice Mechanization Program aimed at accelerating rice production around the country. With the cooperation of the Korean International Cooperation Agency, farm equipment and machineries were given to farmers, including the construction of four rice processing complexes in Davao del Sur, Pangasinan, Bohol and Iloilo.
As per the press statement of the DA, the centers will eventually become common service facilities for members of farmers' associations. That will enable them to mill their own palay so they themselves could sell their milled rice directly to consumers. The service facilities will also empower the farmers to add more value to their rice harvests.
According to Engr. Rex Bingabing, PhilMech's executive director, his agency will be showcasing at the Agrilink trade show several technologies that the scientists of the agency have developed or are developing. One of them is the convection and infrared heating for dried mango processing. This technique is claimed to enhance nutrient retention in the finished product. At the same time the production time is reduced by 20 percent.
PhilMech is also involved in the establishment of integrated farming and processing centers for coconut aimed at helping coconut farmers in producing coconut oil, dessicated coconut, coir fiber, coco peat, coconut powder, coconut water, coconut sugar, and other value-added products.
PhilMech, in coordination with the DA's regional offices and local government units, will subsidize the farmers' acquisition of farm machines and equipment to the tune of 85 percent. That means, the farmers will only pay 15 percent of the cost of the machines and equipment that they will buy. These include hand tractors, threshers, transplanters and water pumps for rice and high-value crops like coffee, cacao, cassava and bio-ethanol.
PhilMech also assists in modernizing the production system, postharvest processing and distribution in the CALABA provinces (Cavite, Laguna and Batangas) so as to improve the supply chain of vegetables and ornamental plants to commercial and retail companies.
PhilMech will also conduct seminars and other interactive activities at the Agrilink 2013, according to Antonio V. Roces, president of the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (FRLD) which is the organizer of Agrilink.
So there you are, make sure to visit this year's Agrilink Expo. You will be happy you did.
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