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            Cebu was one of the initial pilot sites of the then Agricultural Mechanization Development Program (AMDP) in the Visayas region. This came after AMDP launched a similar pilot site in Mindoro Occidental in the late 80’s. The collaborative project commenced in 2003 when the AMDP Director at that time Dr. Sergio C. Capareda was invited by the Farmer Scientist Training Program (FSTP) head Dr. Romulo G. Davide. The objective of the trip was to assess if the FSTP sites are suitable for the introduction of mechanized technology for corn. This was done to allow the FSTP trained farmers to be exposed to new technology and adopt suitable technologies that will improve their farming venture. The initially visited site was Argao, Cebu, the birthplace of the FSTP Program and which happens to be the birthplace of the Davide clan. The FSTP initiated by Dr. Davide aimed to educate farmer’s in the scientific methods and help them apply scientific principles in their farming venture.

            After the initial visit a rapid rural appraisal (RRA) was conducted in Argao and Barili to determine machines suitable for the conditions of Cebu and to the current scale of operation of the FSTP farmers. Through the RRA it was determined that shelling was still predominantly done manually, land preparation was through the use of animal drawn carabaos, planting was manually done and corn milling was expensive since commercial mills were quite far from the production sites. Considering the current state of farm and processing operations, AMDP, demonstrated several technologies that they deemed to be suitable for the surveyed sites. The initial machines demonstrated through field day activities were the power tillers, animal drawn planter and the two drum and manual corn shellers. Initial response of the farmers to the machine were positive so a series of trainings and more demonstrations were done in various sites in the province where FSTP was implemented.

            With the initial success of the activities in Cebu, AMDP, targeted to replicate the program in the provinces of Region 7 especially in areas covered by FSTP. Similar activities were done in Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. Of the four provinces major advances were made in Cebu and Siquijor where there was wide scale acceptance of AMDP machines. Part of the program in Region 7 was industrial extension where local manufacturers would be trained in the fabrication of AMDP designed machines. Through this program two major manufacturers underwent the training namely Suki Trading based in Cebu and Tubal Manufacturing based in Siquijor. Suki was trained in the fabrication of the two-drum sheller, while Tubal was trained in the fabrication of the two-drum sheller, animal drawn planter, hand jabber and the corn mill. Due to extent of business interests of Suki it opted not to continue with the fabrication of small machines. Thus it was Tubal that benefitted largely from the collaboration with AMDP. Apart from the fabrication training, Tubal represented by its owner Mr. Samuel Tubal, also collaborated in the design of a corn mill.

            Mr. Samuel Tubal was one of two major manufacturers of corn mills in Siquijor. In 2007, AMDP engineers visited his shop and was shown the original design of his corn mill that consisted of two electric motors as power units. It was a design acceptable to folks in Region 7 as it was able to mill corn at the desired grits size of the Visayans. After a few more years the FSTP looked for a design of a corn mill that will be acceptable to FSTP farmers. As partners in the collaborative program AMDP assisted FSTP to look for a suitable design. It was then that the collaborative design project with Mr. Tubal was born. Through rigorous consultation meetings AMDP engineers convinced Mr. Tubal of the advantages of adopting a single power unit for the corn mill. He was also convinced to adopt the use of a single cylinder engines so that the mill can be located in areas even without electricity. With the design collaboration the Tubal-AMDP-FSTP corn mill was born. It was agreed that the machine will only be extended to FSTP areas.

            As the collaboration efforts continued through the years, the FSTP became a national program through EO 710 signed by then President Arroyo. AMDP became the Center for Agri-Fisheries and Biosystems Mechanization or BIOMECH on account of the promulgation of RA 10601. In 2013, under the leadership of the new governor of Cebu, Hilario Davide III, the province embarked on a province wide mechanization program that would employ machines in corn based areas that were suitable for the conditions of Cebu. Since the FSTP program has been implemented province wide, this was advantageous to the farmers as they are already exposed to new technology.

            Among the machines planned for distribution was the Two-Drum Corn Sheller, the Animal Drawn Corn Planter, the Hand Jabber and the Corn Mill. This was designed to be given as a set to form a common service facility especially in the remote areas of the province. As collaborating manufacturer Mr. Tubal was encouraged to join the bidding for the machines to fabricate and provide the needed units. Through the numerous biddings conducted Mr. Tubal cornered to provide a considerable number of corn sheller, planters, corn jabbers and corn mills. This proved advantageous to the program since it is the first time that a manufacturer within the same region supplied the machines within the region. This also ensured that after sales services are provided since the manufacturer is within the region.

            To date Mr. Tubal has supplied more than 100 corn mills, 35 corn shellers, more than 50 animal drawn planters and more than a thousand hand jabbers that have already been dsitributed to the different FSTP sites within the province. BIOMECH continued to provide technical assistance to the beneficiaries in the form of ORM trainings on the machines distributed and several more refresher trainings are being planned. Unfortunately, Mr. Tubal passed away last year so his company has temporarily ceased supplying to the province.

            As the program has been in existence for quite sometime BIOMECH has also began conducting impact assessment of the program. Initial feedback from the beneficiaries proved to be positive.

            The collaborative mechanization project in Cebu between BIOMECH, FSTP and the Provincial LGU has proven to be a successful model where mechanization technology was introduced, local manufacturer was developed, machines were sourced from the region and various BIOMECH technologies are now being used in actual farming ventures. (Engr. Alexis C. del Rosario)