DAVAO CITY -- The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is tapping the young generation of farmers the technical literacy to aging farmers as attempt to encourage use of mechanized farming technologies.
To arm the youth of technical knowledge on modern/mechanized farming, PhilMech collaborated with agencies like the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), PhilRice and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to develop online applications for the youth, downloadable e-books on mechanization manual and national certificate courses. TESDA is also crafting agricultural manpower mapping
Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy, the chief of the Applied Communication Division of PhilMech, said they are doing this so that the youth will teach their elders about modern farming and the mechanized technology. Importantly, the new applications will also encourage the youth to engage in farming.
While the older farmers are not keen on technical literacy, Estigoy remains hopeful the youth would engage in farming using mechanized technologies.
During the Training-Writeshop on Localization of Postharvest and Farm Mechanization Technologies for Regional Media in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija, Estigoy said the average age of farmers now is 57, voicing concerns that no one would replace them in the future.
“What will happen. We will be in a dismal situation. Walang papalit sa (No one will replace the) old farmers. The use of machinery is the only method to encourage the youth to engage in agriculture and be competitive,” he said.
Aside from tapping the youth as intermediary, PhilMech also sees mechanization as one of the innovations to address the gap. PhilMech, which is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), is the country’s center for postharvest and mechanization development. It provides relevant technologies, practices and systems to the agri-fishery sector in the country.
Among the technologies for grains are the grain moisture meter,
biomass-fed furnace, outdoor storage technology, pneumatic corn planter, improved corn sheller, maize aflatoxin control system, integrated pest management system and village-type compact corn mill.
For high value crops, PhilMech has developed the multi-commodity solar tunnel dryer, whole cashew kernel sheller, cashew charcoal-fired oven, manual coffee pulper, cassava digger, cassava belt-dryer, soybean sorter, agricultural tramline system, coffee postharvest and processing system and the soybean postharvest and processing system.
Estigoy underscored the importance of shifting to mechanized farming as this will improve efficiency on use of resource, increase productivity, reduce losses and value-adding.
He noted the magnitude of postharvest loss in palay. The average contribution of milling loss is 34 percent and drying with 36 percent to the total postharvest losses.
While there are advantages of mechanized agriculture, Estigoy said there are also constraints like the high capital investment for the machines and lack of loan and credit to support the farmers. There is also the labor displacement since the country has cheap and abundant supply of labor and lack of livelihood programs to generate small rural enterprises and employment.
Estigoy, however, stressed that there are also assistance from government by providing facilities like the multi-purpose pavements for drying, tramline system and mechanical dryers.
As to farm labor, Estigoy said the government is looking at the possibility of also mechanizing farm service.
Estigoy said there are other interventions. The government is providing avenue to pump-prime the agriculture sector with the involvement of the private sector to encourage to invest more in the production of machinery given that PhilMech has no mandate to mass produce machines. PNA
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