THE PHILIPPINE Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has launched an onion mechanical seeder that can plant one hectare in less than three hours and is highly profitable to use. This is the 10-ROMS or Ten-Row Onion Mechanical Seeder which was unveiled during PhilMech’s 39th anniversary celebration a few years back.
2.5 TONS MORE ONION BULBS PER HECTARE – By using this machine, the farmer can expect an additional 2 to 2.5 tons harvest of bulbs from one hectare. Not only that, the cost of production is significantly reduced.
P60,839 ADDITIONAL INCOME PER HECTARE – That is why compared with the old technique of manually broadcasting the seeds, Dr. Renita SM dela Cruz, one of the PhilMech experts, said that 10-ROMS can give additional income of P60,839 per hectare not only due to the increase in yield but also due to reduced number of seeds needed to plant one hectare.
BROADCASTING SEEDS USES MORE SEEDS – For instance, when manual broadcasting is used, the farmer will usually need 20 cans (400 grams) per hectare. With the use of 10-ROMS, the farmer will only need 11 cans per hectare. Since one can of Red Creole seeds costs P1,800, the farmer using 10-ROMS will already save P16,200 on seeds alone.
EXPENSIVE AND LABORIOUS – Another expensive and laborious part of the manual broadcast method is thinning when the plants have attained a few inches in height. It is very possible that some of the seedlings are crowded so they have to be thinned. And that needs a lot of labor costing P300 per person a day. What can make it worse is when there are no available workers to hire for the thinning operation.
NO NEED FOR THINNING – In the case of onions planted the 10-ROMS way, there is no need for thinning because the seeds are planted one seed per hill and are in straight rows. Weeding can also be done more conveniently.
JUST ONE CAN OPERATE – The 10-ROMS needs only one operator. The seeder is attached to a hand tractor that is operated by just one man. Even a lady farmer can operate the machine.
ANOTHER MECHANICAL SEEDER NOT AS EFFICIENT – A mechanical two-row seeder that is manually pulled is also used by some farmers. This is not as efficient as the 10-ROMS. That is why by using 10-ROMS instead of the two-row seeder, the farmer can expect an additional income of P12,391 per hectare, according to PhilMech.
ANOTHER LABORIOUS PRACTICE – One other old practice in onion production is germinating the seeds in seedbeds and then transplanting the same after a few weeks. That is also very laborious and expensive. In transplanting the seedlings alone, 20 workers would be needed to plant one hectare in one day. That would mean P6,000 in wages in addition to the cost of snacks. One usual problem is that there may not be enough workers to hire at transplanting time.
COST – A complete unit of 10-ROMS will cost about P240,000. That could be recovered within a short period, especially if the machine is also used in providing planting service to other onion growers. The usual charge for the of the machine is P2,000 per hour.
THE SPECIALISTS – The subject specialists of 10-ROMS are Dr. Renita SM dela Cruz, Domingo R. Miranda and Rodelio G. Idago. They belong to the Socio-Economic and Policy Research Division (SEPRD) of PhilMech.