FARM MECHANIZATION: It Has Its Downside That The DA Should Address

Rice harvester in Isabela. Harvesting is fast but the harvested palay has to be dried within two days, otherwise it will spoil. That’s because the palay has high moisture content.

Mechanizing the farms is great. Land preparation, planting and harvesting are faster and more economical. But mechanization has its downside, too.

Like what is happening in Region 2 which boasts of having the most number of rice harvesters in the country. The region which consists of Isabela, Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino has no less than 584,119 hectares planted to rice and 425,965 hectares to corn.

Today, according to Eugene Gabriel of Agri Component Manufacturing Corp., the whole rice crop in the region can be harvested in a matter of 30 days, thanks to the mechanical harvesters. Previously, before the advent of the mechanical harvesters, harvesting of the rice crop took 40 to 45 days.

EUGENE GABRIEL of Agricom says there are locally manufactured dryers, mobile and the LSU Type, which are cheaper than those imported from China, United States and Europe.

These days rice farmers have to harvest their crops at the same time so as not to be overtaken by the rainy weather and typhoons. The result is that there is not enough mechanical dryers available to take care of the mechanically harvested rice. The trouble is that the palay which is threshed right at harvest time contains a lot of moisture and has to be dried within two days, otherwise it will get spoiled. And if the days are rainy, the poor farmers would not know what to do with their harvest. They could not dry their palay on the road as is a usual practice in many places.

 

Mobile dryer

This is the mobile recirculating dryer that can dry from 4 tons to 20 tons per batch in 5 to 6 hours, depending on the moisture content of the palay.

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This is the old flatbed dryer that can dry only 6 tons in one day, equivalent to the harvest in one hectare. It is very slow compared to the recirculating LSU type dryer of Agricom.

 

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Due to shortage of warehousing, these palay have to be temporarily stocked in the open, awaiting storage space.

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For lack of dryers, small farmers have to make do by drying their harvest on the road. This is very risky because it could rain anytime. And the quality of the rice produced is low. Grits could be included in the polished rice.

 

Aside from the lack of mechanical dryers to take care of the huge palay harvest, there is the lack of warehousing. The result is that the traders stop buying because they donโ€™t have enough storage space. And so the palay price nosedives. Instead of the usual P19 to P21 per kilo, the price has gone down to P14 and even lower per kilo, according to Dennis Miguel of Santiago City. In Tarlac, Dr. Rene Sumaoang just reported today that palay buyers are paying as low as P8 per kilo. The farmers, he said, are agonizing.

The same problem is happening to the corn harvest. Thereโ€™s not enough mechanical dryers available to the small farmers, and warehousing, too.

The Agricom Metalworks and Construction Corp. of Isabela , manufactures mobile and recirculating dryers for rice and corn.

 

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The village-type compact LeeWha rice mill from Korea can be an important facility that should be made available in the rice farming communities.

 

What the government should do is to help make the dryers available to the rice and corn farmers. After all, the DA has a lot of funds for subsidizing the farmers. There are locally manufactured mobile and recirculating dryers by Agricom using the LSU (Louisiana State U) model, according to Eugene Gabriel. The locally manufactured dryers can dry within a few hours batches of four tons, six tons to 20 tons. These are much more economical than the imported ones from China, United States and Europe, according to Gabriel.

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