Science City of Muñoz – Machines developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) were presented during the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) campus tour forum in a Nueva Ecija state university, May 3.
The rice farming machines were displayed at the Central Luzon State University to raise awareness on how rice farming is being made competitive with the ASEAN integration.
Hundreds of media and students were familiarized with PhilRice machines including laboy-tiller, riding-type transplanter, drumseeder, reaper, and mini-combine through the miniatures produced by the Rice Science Museum.
In the forum, local media group said that farmers have to be prepared so they will also benefit from the ASEAN’s “one vision, one identity, one community” motto.
Based on data, Filipino farmers spend around P11 ($0.25) to produce a kilo of rice while the Thai and Vietnamese spend P8.40 ($0.19) and P5.60 ($0.13), respectively.
Dr. Emil Q. Javier, member of the National Academy of Science and Technology and chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, said that the major source of expenses is the cost of farm labor.
“We use 69 man-days to grow a hectare of rice compared with only 23 and 10 man-days, for Thailand and Vietnam, respectively. To compete, we need to use more machines in farming rice,” he said in a column.
The country hopes to attain a mechanization level of 4 hp/ha – a level comparable to Thailand’s. Currently, agriculture, especially the rice sector, is now close to 3 hp/ha, a whooping leap from its 0.75 hp/ha status in 2010.
Dr. Diadem Gonzales-Esmero, curator of the Rice Science Museum said that the exhibit also shows to the hundreds of students the good prospect of rice farming to the youth.
“ASEAN is one of the most productive agricultural baskets in the world with a young population of more than 600 million. This is a good economic prospect for the youth even if they choose agriculture as farming now is made easier and more economical through these machines,” she said.
The Rice Science Museum also ran an exhibit titled, MakinaBang during the 2017 Annual Convention of Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers, April 23-29, to encourage further development on farm mechanization and production