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Problems and Some Solutions in Mechanizing Philippine Farms
The mechanization in the Philippines is on the upswing as farmers now show more willingness to mechanize their farm. This is according to the Philippine center for post-harvest for development and Mechanization or PhilMech, but Philippines is still left behind compared to other asian countries like Japan and Thailand having an advanced farm mechanizations.
The majority of farmers are tenants. Average monthly income of farmers is also limited by mechanization. Equally, the education and training of farmers and operators is insufficient and needs to be stepped up by both government agencies and machinery firms. Among the problems faced with the use of agricultural machinery, the high cost of equipment rated first followed by the high cost of small fuel Scale of farm holdings and high repair and maintenance costs. Other problems faced were:
local computer unavailability, unpaid bank loans and unavailability of spare parts.
Among the issues affecting agricultural mechanization in the Philippines are appropriate combination of hand tools, animal draft and mechanical power technologies for each specific condition and introduction of appropriate level of technology as determined by financial capacity of farmers. These need to be given attention by both government and private sectors to maximize production.
Filipino farmers' knowledge of farm mechanization and land reform seems to be very low, and they also have financial difficulties when considering the adoption of farm mechanization and land reform. It is therefore very necessary to raise awareness among farmers and
also to provide financial subsidies to farmers who are willing to implement mechanization and land reform.
However, the Philippines is classified at low-mechanization level (Suministrado, 2013). Several reasons are: low buying power of farmers, abundance of rural labor, very small landholdings per farmer, high cost of machines, and government policies not favorable to mechanizing agriculture.
Promoting farm mechanization in the Philippines has also been constrained by the small-sized, unaccessible rice fields especially during the rainy season, irregular, and non-geometric-shaped farm areas.
Mechanizing these lands can be inefficient due to too much maneuvering in operations like land preparation and harvesting. The use of machinery and other large-scale agricultural practices is hampered.
Therefore, in order to improve farm mechanization and the application of advanced technology to small farm production systems , it is important to rearrange small farm lots to economic clusters. This includes the reformation and reallocation of land parcels to achieve economies of scale, as well as the grouping of farmers into functional groups.
The Philippine government had to pursue farm clustering and utilized farmers’ organizations to implement mechanization programs. While the scheme enhanced farmers’ awareness on the use of farm machinery, its utilization was not fully maximized due to inappropriateness of the machines to the random lay-out, irregular-shaped and small-sized farms. Unavailable access roads prevented machines from easily traversing each rice field. Irrigation water was also not efficiently utilized at farmers’ level because of uneven landscape of rice fields.
The Philippine government together with our dear Agricultural Engineers must take act from this situation. Budget must be doubled in agricultural sector. Philippines are very rich in agricultural land, it may be the solution for a high economic growth of our country. Instead of importing rice, vegetables etc. government must end this and take a look into our local farmers and their products.
E. Bautista (2017). Farmer’s Perception on farm mechanization and land reformation in the Philippines. Journal of the Korean Society of International Agriculture. DOI: 10.12719/KSIA.2017.29.3.242