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Farm mechanization and Land reformation in the Philippines

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The government of the Philippines has been working to develop and encourage suitable agricultural machinery and other technologies for mechanization. It is well known that agricultural mechanization improves farm operations and input productivity and decreases production costs and losses after harvest. This will also help counter poverty , social justice and food security and boost agricultural competitiveness and sustainable growth, resulting in higher incomes for farmers. However, at a low-mechanization stage, the Philippines is graded (Suministrado, 2013). There are many reasons: low farmers' purchasing power, abundance of rural labor, very limited land holdings per farmer, high machinery costs, and government policies not conducive to agricultural mechanization. In the Philippines, the promotion of farm mechanization has also been constrained by small-sized, inaccessible rice fields, especially during the rainy season, by irregular and non-geometric farming areas.

Owing to too much maneuvering in activities such as land planning and harvesting, the mechanization of these lands can be inefficient. It is hindered by the use of equipment and other large-scale farming activities. Therefore, it is important to rearrange small farm lots to clusters of economic size in order to improve farm mechanization and the implementation of advanced technology in small farm production systems. This includes restructuring and re-allocating land parcels in order to achieve economies of scale, and grouping farmers into functional communities. Farm clustering was pursued by the Philippine government and farmers' organisations were used to introduce mechanization programs. While the scheme increased the consciousness of farmers about the use of farm machinery, due to the inappropriateness of the machines to the random layout, irregular-shaped and small-size farms, its use was not completely maximized. Unaccessible access roads prevented machines from crossing each rice field easily. Due to uneven rice field landscapes, irrigation water was also not used effectively at the level of farmers. The Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law was enacted in 2013 to improve mechanization in the Philippines. As a major contributor to agricultural growth, the legislation acknowledges the value of agricultural mechanization. It promulgates (a) the promotion of effective mechanization technologies for agriculture and fisheries to increase agricultural production for food safety and protection and to increase the income of farmers; (b) the enhancement of local assembly and manufacturing industries; (c) the development and implementation of standards, testing and evaluation and registration of A / F machinery to ensure the quality and safety of such machinery. (d) enhancing support services, including marketing and credit facilities, research , training and extension programs, infrastructure and post-harvest facilities; (e) strengthening the implementation of mechanization programs for agriculture and fisheries; and (f) providing farmers and stakeholders with comprehensive support services for the effective operation and management of mechanization programs for agriculture and fisheries. The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) was established by this law and will be the head of all agricultural engineering issues under the Agriculture Department. In addition, a National Mechanization Strategy for Agriculture and Fisheries will also be introduced to boost the country 's agricultural mechanization and resolve the underlying issues. One of the few countries that, over a short period of time, have achieved rapid growth and development in agricultural mechanization is Korea. This mechanisation has become the basis not just for rural areas, but also for Korea's economic growth. Through the KAPEX program (Korean Agricultural Policy Experiences for Food Security), the ability to learn about the Farm Mechanization Policy in Korea has greatly contributed to our full understanding of the critical role of mechanization in improving agricultural productivity and achieving food self-sufficiency in the Philippines. The socio-economic demand for agricultural mechanization and financial support, as well as the strong policy push and financial support of the Korean government, can largely be attributed to its success. The farmers, moreover, wanted mechanized farming. Although agricultural systems and human cultures vary from Korea and the Philippines, some lessons can be learned from Korea's experiences of effective agricultural mechanization. In Korea, the Farmland Bank System was established. This Farmland Bank System helps consolidate land (making farms larger in size), buy and maintain farmland to stabilize the value of the land market, support debt farmers, use farmland as a pension basis for aged farmers, lease farmland to skilled farmers, and direct senior farmers who no longer want to sell their land to skilled farmers (KREI, 2015). In 2015, the KAPEX training program participants were particularly intrigued, as they asked for further lectures and on-site visits to the Korean Farmland Bank System. After the completion of the project, numerous workshops and conferences were held by Philippine officials, with a focus on the implementation of the Farmland Bank System through the post-KAPEX project. They expressed their opinions and debates in order to implement the localized Farmland Bank Program. The experience of Korean agricultural policy and the development of technology may serve as a fundamental guide for policy consultations and collaborative projects in the Philippines, where there is limited knowledge on the technological , economic and operational feasibility of land reform. The Philippine government's key interest is the growth of the agricultural sector to make it more profitable, sustainable and sensitive to the country's needs for food security. In this context of the agricultural mechanization of the Philippines, the aim of this study is to identify the perceptions of farmers on farm mechanization and reform of agricultural land.

Status of farm mechanization of the Philippines

The extent of agricultural mechanization of the Philippines for selected crops / products such as rice and maize, tomatoes, legumes and root crops, coconut, sugarcane, fruit and fiber crops is shown in Table 1. It should be noted that, apart from sugarcane, which is typically owned by large companies, the degree of mechanization in various operations in most crops / products is poor. While harvesting is done manually, in various operations ranging from moderate to high for land preparation, low to moderate for transplanting, low to high for cultivation, sugarcane has a relatively higher level of mechanization. Only rice, maize and sugarcane have an intermediate to high degree of land preparation. In plowing and harrowing operations, the availability of imported, locally produced and second hand (imported) hand tractors has increased the degree of mechanization in land preparation operations. There is also a high degree of agricultural mechanization for milling or village-level processing of rice and maize. Rubber roll rice milling machines were used by small-scale rice millers, while large rice millers used modern rice mills (Amongo et al. 2011). Other tasks are also manually conducted in most of the crop. Drying at the level of farmers is typically achieved using roads and multipurpose pavements such as basketball courts by sun drying.

References:

Philippine Rice Research Institute. 2008. “Turning rice waste into energy”. http://www.philrice.gov.ph(accessed May 09,2008)

Suministrado, Delfin C. 2013. Status of Agricultural Mechanization in the Philippines. Regional Forum on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in Asia and the PAcific.

Philippines Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization. Retrieved from http://www.philmech.gov.ph/?page= phlossinfo

Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI). 2015. Agriculture in Korea.

Amongo, Rossana Naire., Amongo, Louie., & Larona, Maria Victoria. 2011. Mechanizing Philippine Agriculture for Food Sufficiency. Institute of Agricultural Engineering. UNAPCAEM and FAO

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