New PhilMech di­rec­tor is a mechanized rice farmer

Agriculture - - Contents -

NOT MANY PEO­PLE KNOW that Dr. Dion­i­sio G. Alvin­dia, the new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Philip­pine Cen­ter for Posthar­vest De­vel­op­ment and Mech­a­niza­tion (PhilMech), is a mechanized rice farmer.

He and his wife op­er­ate a 30-hectare rice farm in Que­zon, Nueva Ecija, whose op­er­a­tions are mechanized, from land prepa­ra­tion and trans­plant­ing up to posthar­vest­ing.

We met Dr. Alvin­dia at the re­cent agri­cul­tural mech­a­niza­tion trade show in Cheo­nan City in Korea, and to­gether, we got to ex­am­ine the plen­ti­ful sam­ples of agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery for prac­ti­cally ev­ery farm­ing pur­pose. And he said that mech­a­niza­tion can re­ally cut the cost of pro­duc­ing rice. As per his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, he can save as much as PhP 6,500 on trans­plant­ing costs per hectare with the use of a trans­plant­ing ma­chine.

Un­known to many, in­clud­ing those from the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, he is about the first—or one of the first—to adopt the use of a me­chan­i­cal trans­planter. Being the sci­en­tist that he is, he ac­quired a trans­planter by re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing a sec­ond-hand trac­tor he bought for R120,000. He also fab­ri­cated metal trays for grow­ing his seedlings.

How was he able to save R6,500 by mech­a­niz­ing his trans­plant­ing? Here’s how. When the seedlings are trans­planted man­u­ally, it takes 20 peo­ple to do the job on one hectare in one day. On the other hand, it takes only three work­ers to trans­plant by ma­chine on one hectare us­ing his im­pro­vised 4-row trans­planter.

The daily wage of the 20 man­ual trans­planters, in­clud­ing snacks and lunch, amounts to a to­tal of R7,000. Add to that R1,000 as the cost of grow­ing the seedlings; R2,000 for pulling, and R500 for haul­ing the seedlings to the field. That amounts to a to­tal of R10,500 in costs.

In the case of trans­plant­ing by ma­chine, the work­ers are al­lot­ted R1,500, in­clud­ing their food. Add R1,500 for fuel and R1,000 for grow­ing the seedlings. There is no cost for pulling and haul­ing be­cause the seedlings are in metal trays which are brought to the field by the trac­tor. That’s a to­tal of R4,000, which means a sav­ings of R6,500.

With 30 hectares, Dr. Alvin­dia could save a to­tal of R195,000 on trans­plant­ing per crop­ping. If he plants two times a year, that will amount to R390,000.

Dr. Alvin­dia ad­mits that in the be­gin­ning, he en­coun­tered some prob­lems. There were some miss­ing hills, but even­tu­ally, the prob­lem was solved. The work­ers are now very ef­fi­cient at do­ing their trans­plant­ing job.

COM­BINE HAR­VESTER – Har­vest­ing with a com­bine also

re­sults in big sav­ings. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Alvin­dia, the har­vesters get a share of 7.5 ca­vans per 100 ca­vans har­vested. Then the cost of thresh­ing is also 7.5 ca­vans per hun­dred ca­vans. That’s 15 ca­vans per 100 ca­vans. If the sell­ing price of freshly threshed palay is R16 per kilo, one bag will be R800. Thus the 15 ca­vans are worth R12,000.

Let’s take the cost of com­bine har­vest­ing. For ev­ery 100 ca­vans, the share of the com­bine har­vester is 9 ca­vans worth R7,200. The palay is al­ready threshed with one pass of the com­bine. So there’s a sav­ings of R4,800 per 100 ca­vans har­vested.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Alvin­dia, he nor­mally har­vests 170-180 ca­vans per hectare. That would be 5,100 to 5,400 ca­vans. And if the sav­ings is R4,800 per hun­dred ca­vans, the sav­ings will range from R244,800 to R259,200 from 30 hectares.

CLSU ALUM­NUS – Dr. Alvin­dia got his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in agri­cul­ture, ma­jor in pathol­ogy, from the Cen­tral Lu­zon State Univer­sity in 1985. Im­me­di­ately af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he joined PhilMech as a re­search aide. Then in 1997 to 2003, he stud­ied at the Tokyo Univer­sity of Agri­cul­ture un­der a schol­ar­ship from Ja­pan for his mas­ter’s and PhD de­grees. In 2006-2008, he went back to Ja­pan for his post-doc­toral stud­ies. That’s when he started to do re­search on bi­o­log­i­cal crop pro­tec­tion prod­ucts.

He has now patented two bi­o­log­i­cal fungi­cides. One of them was de­vel­oped from fun­gus and bac­te­ria from the Cavendish banana. It has been found to con­trol banana dis­eases like Si­ga­toka and Fusar­ium wilt, crown rot in pa­paya, and an­thrac­nose in mango.

The other bi­o­log­i­cal fungi­cide was de­rived from or­gan­isms in banana and ca­cao. It is also good for con­trol­ling banana dis­eases, vas­cu­lar dis­ease of ca­cao, and pod rot. The two are un­der fur­ther field test­ing prior to re­lease for com­mer­cial use.

AT PHILMECH – Mean­while, at PhilMech, Dr. Alvin­dia will be kept busy de­vel­op­ing the farm mech­a­niza­tion equip­ment needed by dif­fer­ent agri­cul­ture sec­tors. For one, he would like to de­velop im­proved strip­ping ma­chines for abaca. A me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) be­tween PhilMech and the Korea Agri­cul­tural Ma­chin­ery In­dus­try Co­op­er­a­tive (KAMICO) was re­cently signed. Un­der the MOU, the two par­ties will col­lab­o­rate in pro­mot­ing agri­cul­tural mech­a­niza­tion in the coun­try through the es­tab­lish­ment of a Farm Mech­a­niza­tion Cen­ter and in de­vel­op­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ma­chin­ery for the Philip­pines.— ZAC B. SARIAN

Dr. Dion­i­sio Alvin­dia, PhilMech ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

By us­ing a me­chan­i­cal har­vester, Dr. Alvin­dia can save R4,800 for ev­ery 100 ca­vans har­vested.

Dr. Alvin­dia (left) and KAMICO chair­man Shin Gil Kim sign­ing the MOU on the col­lab­o­ra­tion of PhilMech and Kamico to pro­mote mech­a­niza­tion in the Philip­pines.

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