by John Paul M. Omac
There is a common conception that agriculture banks purely on manual labor, and that machinery would be odd in such a setting. However, for an institute envisioning productive and sustainable agriculture, that notion should be challenged.
This is what the Agricultural Mechanization Development Program (AMDP) has continuously tried to do, as shown in their exhibit in the annual Los Banos Science Fair, SyenSaya, being held from September 10-12 at the Copeland Gymnasium, University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).
As the research development and extension arm of the College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology, AMDP has already developed various technologies and machinery to help farmers improve their production and practices. Among these machines featured in their exhibit were the UPLB hand tractor, a simple hand tractor that can operate at lower power engines than those used by other tractors; the animal-drawn plow-mounted corn seeder, which aids farmers to plant their corn seeds mechanically with even spacing; and the UPLB two-drum corn sheller, which automatically separates corn kernels from its core and husk.
According to Mario C. Bueno, university extension specialist, AMDP is committed to serve the Philippine agri-fisheries sector through mechanization. “We envision the Philippines to be responsive to the challenges of food security, energy sustainability, and environmental protection,” he said.
In 2012, AMDP was institutionalized through Republic Act 10601 or the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law to lead and coordinate the agricultural and fishery mechanization RDE program of all academic institutions in the country. The law mandates AMDP to assist other State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) with their research and extension programs.
“We also serve as a ‘clearing house’ of mechanization researches in other SUCs,” Bueno added.
Bueno also explained that they try to be as hands on as they can with their work, which includes community visits, mechanization needs assessments and analysis, and even trainings for the farmers and fishermen. Their beneficiaries have even extended to as far as Bohol and Mindanao.
Even young students who went to the fair showed appreciation for the program.
Albert Pena, a grade six student from Tadlac Elementary School, said that he is glad that there are efforts to help the farmers. “Dapat po kasing tulungan rin ang mga magsasaka dahil sila ang nagbibigay ng pagkain sa mga tao,” Pena said.
For their contribution to research and extension in agricultural mechanization, AMDP has been recognized as the Outstanding Research Program during the UPLB’s 104th foundation anniversary.
However, for people in the AMDP, the contribution they have done is more than the award itself. “It’s more like of a bonus,” Bueno said.