Tuesday, May 31, 2016

farm mechanization in the Philippines: The bad news

Traditionally for the main crop, you prepare your field by plowing several times so the mud kills the weeds, then plant seedlings by hand, carefully spaced. t

traditionally this was done with a water buffalo but now most people have handplows: sort of a large rototiller that does the work more easily.

You then weed a couple times, and finally, you cut the rice by hand (all the family comes in from town to help), and someone collects it for threshing, drying (often on the road) and bagging.

We have had a thresher for awhile, where the cut rice goes in the top and then spits out the straw and collects the rice. (Threshing by hand is difficult to say the least). But now there are machines that do a lot of the plowing and harvesting.

From the Inquirer: Local part time farm workers are now unemployed due to the gov't helping the farmers (not just those of us who own several plots, but also those who are often also poor but now own their land thanks to land reform). And not just the gov't: Many of the small farmers have kids overseas who send money back to build new homes and the farm equipment.

I have seen our farm area go from wooden houses, an unpaved road, no electricty, to concrete houses, electricity (small antenna for TV) and lots of small shops. One clue to how things were starting to change came when I visited in the 1990's, and saw a small wood house with a sign in the window: Cellphone here: calls available to Saudi Arabia.

but the part timers are not in luck.

CABANATUAN CITY—Like farmers who suffered heavy losses as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, farm workers in Nueva Ecija province are pleading for help, too.
The workers, mainly those who do the harvesting, are attributing their woes to a farm mechanization program of the government, which replaced manual labor with combine harvester machines.
The agriculture department promoted farm mechanization five years ago “to further increase the productivity and income of small farmers.”
But it apparently forgot about the farm workers that the machines displaced.
In the Science City of Muñoz, 133 harvester machines, which perform three separate operations—reaping, threshing and winnowing—have been fielded at the height of the harvest season.
But the toll of mechanization has been hard for farm workers like Marlon Manale, 36, and the government has yet to address their plight.

Read more:http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/788064/nueva-ecija-farmers-plead-for-help-too#ixzz4AEjz70qw
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the answer, of course is more factories for these workers...if you improve the infrastructure, we are close to Manila so we could send stuff there easily.

and it is a lot cheaper to hire people here: cheaper food and housing, especially if you have family here who will help you live with them or has a plot for you to extend a room to their house.

Well, we changed the mayor, although the last one did help some of the infrastructure, and now maybe we will have less corruption with Rudy aka DuerteHarry (a pun on Dirty Harry).

So things are changing, and the good news is fewer poor people and a growing middle class.

The bad news: the tropical paradise that I retired to is now getting malls and shops and fast food restaurants like McDonalds.

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