The Department of Agriculture said today the private sector is starting to see the benefits of farm mechanization program that government has initiated and is beginning to “go with the program.”

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said, government has only given out 200 combined harvesters throughout the country, but currently there are already 2,000 of the said farm machine in the Philippines.

It means the private sector sees that the program is good and they are emulating it, Alcala said.

He added, in milling,  using the old methods, 50 percent to 53 percent is the average recovery rate but with modern machines and means, milling recovery can go as high as 65 to 68 percent in rice.

“Hindi po biro ang 10 percent na mare-recover na palay,” Alcala said.

He added, mechanical dryers dry more grains faster, and the quality of mechanically dried grain is superior than grains dried using archaic techniques.

Based on 2010 study conducted by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute, a total of 16.47 percent of grains is wasted after harvest.

Drying and milling losses was established at 5.86 and 5.52% respectively, according to the study.

According to the Secretary, the Department is also gradually integrating rice mills in farmer cooperatives so that in time, they can run their own rice mills.

The Department’s farm mechanization program is in full throttle to increase harvest and reduce losses with the use of modern planting technologies for the benefit of local farmers.

“The DA’s farm mechanization program intends to increase our farmers’ knowledge about appropriate production technologies in preparation for the effects of climate change. Post-harvest losses is also expected to go down,” Alcala said.

According to the Secretary, the program also targets to increase our farmers income by almost 15 percent with the use of modern machines and methods.

Specifically, farm mechanization initiatives intend to raise by 5 percent local rice production and also increase rice supply by 5 percent.

Recent studies reveal that modern ways of land preparation with the use of farm machines, timely planting and proper appropriate use of fertilizers result to higher yields. (Ian Go, DA-OSEC)