The project is a collaboration of the local government of Victoria, the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology, and SEARCA or Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture based in Los Baños.
Under a memorandum of agreement signed by SEARCA director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr., Victoria Mayor Alfredo G. Ortega Jr. and MinSCAT president Dr. Jesse T. Zamora, the project aims to rehabilitate Victoria’s calamansi industry to make it economically viable and at the same time environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.
According to Dr. Saguiguit, Mindoro is a major producer of calamansi in the country, yet it has been experiencing huge declines in production due to lack of appropriate marketing arrangements and value-adding activities for calamansi.
The project aims to increase yields, increase production of calamansi-based products, diversify products and markets, and boost income as a result of better prices of products sold and reduced postharvest losses during peak season.
Saguiguit said the collaborative project is under the auspices of SEARCA’s Pilot and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD) program.
Through the program, SEARCA brings to local communities effective agricultural systems as models of ISARD that demonstrate increased benefits for poor and vulnerable groups through integrated ground-level development interventions.
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ON FARM MECHANIZATION – Farm mechanization in the Philippines is fast gaining ground but there is a need to strengthen the human resource capacities to ensure that investments in the farm machines are maximized.
That’s the message of Jose Luis Fernandez, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who was guest at the 3rd Regional Forum on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization held in Manila attended by delegates from the Asia-Pacific.
He cited the rapid increase in rice harvesters in the Philippines. In 2011, there were only 41 units of rice harvesters. By 2014, the number had jumped to 1,806 units.
He noted that such postharvest machines, combined with tractors and transplanters, among others, significantly help improve farm productivity and product quality – and reduce production cost and postharvest losses, which translate to enhanced income for farmers and improved food supply.
Fernandez stressed that “as the Philippines gradually catches up with its neighbors in Asia in the shift from traditional labor-intensive production and postharvest operations to mechanized labor-saving
technologies, it is imperative to ensure that the gap in human resource capacities for the effective uptake of new technologies is addressed.”
He also reiterated the need to broaden the scope and align the curricula of higher education and training institutions in the field of sustainable agricultural mechanization with changing trends in the region and with sustainability principles.
“Trained human resources are instrumental to sustainable mechanization. In order to promote the appropriate selection and proper use of mechanization, training must take place at all levels and involve a wide range of stakeholders, including the departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, as well as farmers’ organizations, agri-food chain stakeholders and those working in the agricultural machinery and supply chains. The benefits of mechanization will not be fully harnessed, especially by smallholders, unless these effective linkages are created,” Fernandez said.
FAO has been integrating farm mechanization in its various projects in support of the government of the Philippines. In 2015, FAO distributed more than 300 sets of farm machinery and equipment, including hand tractors, tillers, shredders, rice threshers and reapers, corn shellers, multi-purpose dryers, mini corn mills, micro-mills, among others, to farmers and community-based organizations in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.