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            Masbate became one of BIOMECH’s pilot area right after its elevation as a Center. BIOMECH’s involvement in the area started under the UPLB-CLSU NAFES-CHED project entitled “Enhancing Productivity Through the Utilization of Technologies and Knowledge Systems in Corn-based Ecosystem for Food Security”. With the goal of enhancing productivity of a corn-based farming community through the introduction and utilization of corn mechanization and innovative technologies for food security, the project partnered with Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr., Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) and Lantangan People’s Organization (LAPO). Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between UPLB and DEBESMSCAT as collaborating Provincial Institute of Agriculture and Fisheries (PIAF) was executed for the implementation of the project. Needs and design assessment (NADA) was conducted to gather data through survey, focus group discussions, and interviews with key informants and collaborators. Through the survey and other strategies, the sub-program was able to establish the socio-demographic information, existing agricultural practices including the level of agricultural mechanization, marketing and credit system, problems and issues on the present agricultural system of Masbate, in the general terms. The NADA results were one of the bases in identifying the mechanization gaps and determining the appropriate mechanization interventions in the area. It was found out that the province had a low level of mechanization. Coupled with low corn productivity of the province, BIOMECH’s presence has never been more important.

            Ten (10) different corn mechanization technologies designed and developed by the Institute of Agricultural Engineering (IAE) and BIOMECH were fabricated and tested in response to the results of the NADA. These were diffused afterwards in Lantangan, Mandaon, Masbate for LAPO and in coordination with DEBESMSCAT. The corn mechanization technologies are as follows:

  1. UPLB Upland Hand Tractor with Brake Differential Steering Mechanism
  2. Two-Wheel Tractor Mounted Corn Planter;
  3. Drip Irrigation System;
  4. Sprinkler Irrigation System;
  5. Automated Two-Wheel Tractor Mounted Fertilizer Applicator;
  6. AMDP Two-Drum Corn Sheller;
  7. UPLB Flatbed Dryer;
  8. Metal Grain Silo;
  9. Mini Corn Mill; and
  10. Hydroponic Vegetable Production in Greenhouse Protective Structure.

Capability building among the beneficiaries was also conducted in the project site. A total of 449 participants composed of corn farmers from LAPO, faculty and students of DEBESMSCAT and staff from DAR Masbate were trained on the Operation, Repair and Maintenance of the different CMTs. Among the participants were 240 farmer beneficiaries from the project site. Perception surveys were also conducted at the end of each training course to determine farmers’ opinion on different technology parameters. Initial impacts identified are reduction in input costs, increase in productivity, time saved in farm operations, and full utilization of resources. Generally, the results showed farmers/respondents’ favorable response on the technology adoption and utilization using identified technology perception parameters implying their willingness to adopt the technologies in Mandaon, Masbate.

Having the farmer’s favorable response in mind, BIOMECH continued its presence in Masbate even though the UPLB-CLSU NAFES CHED project ended in March 31, 2017. A planning meeting with Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO), and DEBESMSCAT Research and Extension was conducted on February 19, 2018 at PARO, Masbate City in preparation for the Project Partners’ Meeting with Lantangan People’s Organization (LAPO), PARO, and DEBESMSCAT Research and Extension. The Project Partners’ meeting happened on February 20, 2018 at LAPO Multi-Purpose Center. Feedbacks were collected in order to correct and redesign the diffused technologies according to the preference of the farmers. The corn mechanization technologies were also visited afterwards to assess its condition. While within the area, BIOMECH also conducted an introduction of ABE, BIOMECH, and BIOMECH technologies to Senior High School Students/Faculty. Tractor driving practice was also conducted for the students. (Engr. Marck Ferdie V. Eusebio)