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DA pushes standardized mechanization program

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for a standardized mechanization program that would reduce post-harvest losses in the farm sector to help the country achieve 100 percent rice self-sufficiency.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the country’s lack of access to efficient farm equipment and facilities has a great effect on the national post-harvest loss level, which averages 16 percent annually.

This translates to about three million metric tons (MT) of rice loss per year.

“Japan, for example, has a 16 percent mechanization rate while our country has only two percent mechanization rate. If we can lessen post-harvest loss by at least six to eight percent, we can already achieve rice sufficiency,” Piñol said.

“If we wish to help farmers increase their productivity and income, let’s give them the best, so we can also change their mindset,” he added.

Alongside mechanization, the agri chief also called for hybridization which would result to more optimum harvest and better quality and quantity of rice.

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“By simply planting hybrid rice in our farms, we can increase harvest and income. We don’t even have to expand production areas,” Piñol added.

The Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) aims to increase the level of mechanization to four horsepower per hectare this year to put the country at par with its  ASEAN neighbors.

The local agricultural industry’s mechanization level currently stands at three  HP/ha from .75 HP/ha in 2010.

PhilMech said this was due to lack of budget allocation for the mechanization sector.

An increase in farm mechanization could make Filipino farmers as competitive as their counterparts in Thailand and Vietnam, PhilMech said.

Mechanization level refers to the amount of machine power used over the size of land covered for farming.

“Our new advocacy is to develop and commercialize the technologies where stakeholders will be the ones to tell us what they want and need, then we will address their concerns,” PhilMech said.

This would likely result to getting more inputs from the intended users of farm technologies, particularly small farmers and agriculture cooperatives. 

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