Featured Scientist_Gagelonia
Engr. Eden C. Gagelonia has developed quite a number of machines for rice cultivation. She is a Supervising Science Research Specialist at our Rice Engineering and Mechanization Division (REMD). For almost 30 years in the rice engineering sector, she has published numerous research papers and has served as technical reviewer of many of our publications for farmers and other rice stakeholders.

Engineering feat

She started work at PhilRice in 1989. The task then was to promote farm machines to rice farmers. At first, she doubted her capability to carry out the task, which is a usual feeling among newbies. At any rate, she just proceeded and focused on what she had to deliver.

Eden was involved in the development of ride-on precision drum seeder, conventional flatbed dryer, and reversible dryer. The drying machines are now being used nationwide, which help address issues on the inadequacy of drying facilities during the rainy season.

Eden advocates farming without fossil energy. She leads a program that aims to design and promote environment-friendly ways of utilising farm machines. Under her supervision, a rice hull gasifier (RHG) was developed by Dr. Arnold Juliano, a machine that uses ricehull biomass as a source of energy to run an engine. It could be used for fueling the water pump system for irrigation.

Currently, her study on a multipurpose-seeder (MP seeder) attached to a handtractor is under field testing at the farner’s field. Cheaper crop establishment cost, reduced seeding rate, and more accurate seeding compared with manual broadcasting are the main features of the new MP seeder for dry direct seeding.

“The machine is attached to a handtractor as it is common among farmers and many of them own a handtractor. By attaching the MP seeder, use of the handtractor can be optimized,” says Eden.
In 2015, the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers (PSAE) awarded her the Outstanding Agricultural Engineer in the field of Postharvest Technology and Agricultural Processing.

Leadership journey

Without question, Eden has a passion for leadership. In 2004, she was designated as the national coordinator of the National Rice Seed Production Network (SeedNet), which resulted in streamlined process of seed production.

In 2006, she led the PhilRice Seed Production and Health Division (SPHD). Her work in SPHD prompted her to develop the precision seeder for inbred rice production and characterize the effects of seed production environment and time of harvest on seed quality of Mestizo 1 and Mestiso 7.

Four years later, in 2010, she supervised the project funded by the Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA) on labor saving cultural practices for direct seeding. She was then the head of REMD.

Mechanization dream

With the intensified implementation of DA’s mechanization program, she hopes that the long dreamt improvement in the level of mechanization in the country will finally be realized.

“Our mechanization level does not compare with our neighbors. This is a challenge to us in the agriculture sector to fast-track our efforts in mechanizing rice farming in the Philippines,” says Eden.

She believes that bringing in will result in significant improvements in rice cultivation.

She emphasizes the need for access to credit and/or loan facilities so farmers could acquire machines as well as the need to strengthen the local machine manufacturing industry.

While she admits that agricultural engineering lacks appeal to the younger generation, she believes that those who plan to take this path will have a fulfilling journey helping farmers. Young engineers, Eden says, must harness their creativity to develop machines suitable for the different field types in the Philippines.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute