PhilMech wants to have more certified farmer-mechanics
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) said it is eyeing an increase in the number of certified farmer-mechanics who can provide maintenance services for the small agricultural equipment that farmers operate nationwide.
Realizing how important maintenance is to keep small farm equipment in continuous operation, PhilMech launched the “Magsasakang Mekaniko” (Farmer Mechanic) program in 2017.
The agency led the program in cooperation with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Agricultural Manufacturers and Distributors Association, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the regional office of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Region XI (Davao region).
Also sharing its expertise for the program is the Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT) that is headquartered in Muñoz Science City, Nueva Ecija.
ATI and PhilMech are agencies under the Department of Agriculture.
The “Magsasakang Mekaniko” program has so far resulted in the certification of 68 individuals who have Motorcycle/Small Engine Servicing (MSES) National Certificate II, and another 29 with Certificate of Competency for Small Engine Servicing.
They were all trained in four batches last year.
Within this year, PhilMech is eyeing to increase the number of the certified farmer-mechanics to around 200.
“The training course aims to pool a core of rural agricultural machinery technicians from the ranks of farmer and other rural laborers,” PhilMech Program leader Arnel Ramir M. Apaga said.
Small farm equipment like hand tractors and tillers, harvesters, and millers are usually powered by one-cylinder engines running on gas or diesel fuel, which are made in Japan, China, Thailand, among others.
PhilMech said some of these engines are even more complex than those powering smaller motorcycles, and also need maintenance like replacement of lubricant and some engine parts at certain intervals.
Experts at PhilMech said that farm machines like tillers that prepare the soil for planting are usually subjected to a high level of stress, which will require such machines to be serviced by farmer-mechanics.