Level of farm mechanization in Phl rising
(The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The level of farm mechanization in the country has risen to one horsepower per hectare (h/ha) from 0.52 hp/ha in the ‘90s, making it possible for the country to catch up with neighboring Southeast Asian countries by 2016, according to the latest survey done by the Philippine Center for Mechanization and Postharvest Development (Philmech).

In a briefing yesterday, Philmech executive director Rex Bingabing said that based on the initial results of the survey which was conducted  this year, the current level farm of mechanization  in the country is at least one hp/ha overall.  For rice cultivation areas alone, the mechanization level is placed at 1.60 hp/ha.

With continued investment in farm mechanization by the government and the private sector, the local farm mechanization level can rise to two hp/ha by next year.

The new survey on the level of farm mechanization in the country covers the period 2007 to 2012 and is based on the number of farm machineries sold and deployed during the period.

In 1995, the level of farm mechanization in the country was placed by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) at 0.52 hp/ha.

The Philippines still lags behind other countries in Southeast Asia in terms of farm mechanization. Among the leaders in Asia are Japan with a mechanization level of seven hp/ha, South Korea at 4.11 hp/ha, China with 4.10 hp/ha, and Vietnam with 1.56 hp/ha.

The country’s farm mechanization level is now currently at par with those of Pakistan and India which also has mechanization levels of 1.02 ph/ha

Increased farm mechanization, or the use of machinery to ease drudgery and time spent on crop cultivation and maintenance, can significantly shorten land preparation time from one month to only two weeks and harvest time from a regular coverage of one hectare per day to four hectares per day.

The Agriculture department last year launched its mechanization program for rice farming as part of its efforts to make the country self-sufficient in rice supply by 2013.

This year, the department has a budget of P2.6 billion for farm machinery subsidies.  Last year, the department released P1 billion; for 2013, it has allocated a budget of P2.4 billion for farm mechanization.

During the program’s six-year duration, the target is to purchase and distribute up to 7,000 postharvest units and 90,000 units of on-farm machineries.

Under the farm modernization program, the DA can subsidize up to 95 percent of the acquisition costs of farm machineries by qualified farmer organizations and irrigators’ associations. The remaining 15 percent of the acquisition cost can be shouldered by the beneficiaries themselves, their respective local government units or other private entities.

“It is only now and during the past few years that farm mechanization is being taken seriously by the government,” said Bingabing.

He said the country’s newfound aggressiveness for pursuing food sufficiency is now recognized by other countries.

“Vietnam now considers the Philippines as a potential competitor in rice production.”



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