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Enhancing Farmers’ Productivity through the Introduction of Appropriate Agricultural Mechanization Technologies in the municipality of Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur

The municipality of Dumingag, located in the eastern part of the province of Zamboanga del Sur, is one of the project collaborators of BIOMECH-CEAT in several of its agricultural mechanization projects.  The municipality is noted for its advocacy in organic agriculture, and have identified that agricultural mechanization is one of the indispensable component to make organic agriculture successful.  Accordingly, the municipality has requested BIOMECH for technical assistance in applying mechanization interventions to selected farm production operations.

The initial mechanization intervention that BIOMECH has done in the municipality was the introduction of the mechanical rice weeder, corn hand hand jabber and the hand-held corn sheller.  One of the problems of organic rice farmers were the proliferation of weeds on rice farms, since farmers were prohibited from using chemical pesticides.  To address this problem, the LGU requested BIOMECH in mechanizing the weeding operation.  BIOMECH introduced the manual rice weeder, which was readily adapted by the farmers.  To ensure that the machine will be available to interested users, BIOMECH conducted training on the fabrication of the weeder, and training on the fabrication of its fixture. 

For corn farms, BIOMECH introduced the hand jabber as planting aid and the manual corn sheller for shelling corn.  Both of these tools were acceptable to the farmers in the municipality. 

For 2019, the LGU is planning to distribute 550 units of the rice weeder, and the same number of hand jabber and hand-held corn sheller to farmers. 

During times of surplus harvest, when market prices of vegetable and root crops become unprofitably low, the LGU buys these products to help farmers in marketing their produce.  To utilize and add value to a low-valued product, the LGU decided to process the vegetables and root crops into powder. 

It was recognized that mechanization interventions were necessary in order to make this project successful.  The municipal government of Dumingag, through its mayor, requested the assistance of BIOMECH to mechanize the various processing steps required to produce powder from turmeric rhizomes and other low value crops.  The BIOMECH-developed machines, which consisted of a vegetable slicer, cabinet-type dryer, pulverizer, and sieve separator, were installed at the Dumingag Organic Processing Center in Bgy Lower Landing, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur.  The processing center also produced wine from organically grown rice and other organic substrates.  Production of powder and wine started last November 2015.  

Turmeric processing has become a reliable source of income of the Dumingag LGU.  Currently, the enterprise has created a dependable market for their product such that the business is now operating from its income, and have since stopped receiving financial subsidies from the LGU.  At present, the processing center sets production so that its monthly income will not be less than P200,000 per month.  The processing center has also became a source of employment and majority of the eight staff are women.  Farmers of the municipality have also increased their production of turmeric, and more farmers in its 44 barangays have engaged in turmeric farming, now that they have a reliable market for their produce.  The successful operation of the business enterprise was facilitated by the introduction of BIOMECH-developed processing machines.

An offshoot of this project, also, is the granting of research funds by the DA-BAR in the optimization of parameters of the processing machines towards the development of commercial prototypes. (Engr. Jose D. de Ramos)