SOUTH COTABATO, February 13, 2023 – For efficient postharvest production, 8 farmers associations (FAs) in SOCCSKSARGEN were granted corn shellers by the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) as support to corn production projects of Phase 1 beneficiaries in the region.
While the program paddles for its Phase 2 implementation, beneficiaries from its Phase 1 still get to receive pipelined projects for continuous assistance in the FAs’ operations.
Generated from the savings fund, the eight (8) FAs with a total of 415 members received the FY 2022 Integrated Corn Production with Vegetable Production and Postharvest Equipment Support worth Php 1,440,000 on January 13 and 16, 2023 (Table 1). These equipment have initial fuel provision which the FAs can use and replenish when necessary.
The beneficiaries are marginalized farmers composed of 286 members belonging to B’laan, Maguindanaon, and Sangil indigenous people (IPs) located in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA), who grow corn, coconut, coffee, and other crops for their consumption and retail.
Table 1. Corn sheller units postharvest equipment recipients
The distribution and turn-over of equipment took place at DA-Tupi Research Outreach Station in Bolomala, Tupi, South Cotabato spearheaded by Regional Agricultural Engineering Division (RAED) staff, and attended by the Municipal Agriculturist (MA) from different municipalities, and FA presidents and operators.
Prior to the distribution, the corn sheller supplier conducted an operation and maintenance training with a demonstration on preventive maintenance and proper handling and use of the machine.
“Sa wala pa ang corn sheller, muabot pag usa ka simana ang among paglubo, o gabayad mi ug tag Php 30.00 kada sako sa mais. Tapos inig galling na sad (corn mill) tag Php 15 ang bayad sa uban. Mao nang pait jud kaau, igo ra among harvest pang-konsumo. Maong dako kaayo among pasalamat kay napilian jud among asosasyon nga isa sa mga beneficiaries sa inyong proyekto sa mais. Sa pagka- karon halos katunga jud ang nabawas sa among gastos sa pag lubo ug galling, mao makabaligya na jud mi, makapalit na mi ug sud-an pares sa among bugas mais,” shared Ms. Reality S. Calolong, Laying Farmers & Fisherfolks Association president.
(Before, without the corn sheller, it took us a week to separate the grain from the cobs using the hand-shelling method which we usually pay Php 30/sack; and another Php 15/sack when the corn grains are ready for milling. That is why it’s very tough for us because we are left with just enough harvest to feed our family. Now, as beneficiaries of the corn production project, we are grateful because nearly half of our operating expenses from shelling and milling have been reduced. We can sell our produce in the market and bring home with us some viand to pair with our ground corn.)
Before receiving the corn shellers, FA members were accustomed to the manual process of hand shelling, called “lubo” in the local dialect. Lubo is a time-consuming process of shelling that requires farmers to use their thumbs and press hard on the grains to separate kernels from the cob, another process is by rubbing two (2) corn cobs against each other.
“Kami nagpasalamat sa DA-SAAD nga mao kana (corn sheller) ang among nadawat nga ilang gituman ang among gipangandoy para sa among asosasyon, nga makahatag ug dugang nga income, ug sa mga nadawat pod namong nauna tong mga mais similia,” shared Mr. Dione Sucal, Patag Coffee Growers Association president.
(We are very thankful to DA- SAAD, that gave us that [corn sheller] we were wishing for our association, and it will give an additional income apart from the corn seeds that we received earlier.)
The corn shellers arrived right in time for the harvest of some of the association members. Two (2) members of the Kibawalan Farmers Association who planted corn in their 1 hectare (ha) land harvested 40 bags (with cobs). Using the sheller, they managed to get 12-15 bags/hr compared to hand shelling where they can only shell out 1.5 bags a day. As a result, the farmers were able to produce 21 bags of around 50 kilograms (kg)/bag.
Meanwhile, five (5) members of Laying Farmers & Fisherfolks Association produced 46 bags (kernels) from 87 bags (with cobs) harvested from a 4.2ha land after using the corn sheller.
With SAAD’s aim for beneficiaries to sustain their production and transform FAs into community-based enterprises (CBE), the postharvest equipment will help the groups in the efficiency of harvest, as well as reduce possible postharvest labor losses, and maintain the quality of their product.
It is important to note that SAAD treats the farmers as partners who are active agents of self development. Hence, other operating consumables are up to the farmers to provide either from previous harvests, through financial credit, partnerships, and other institution engagement that improve FA-specific linkages.
The FAs crafted a scheme on the usage of the corn sheller, which includes a different rate per bag that applies to members (Php 7 to Php 25 per bag) and non-members (Php 12 to Php 35 per bag) of the group in which income from the corn sheller usage will be used for the maintenance of the equipment. ###
Writer: Anabell F. Llemit, DA-SAAD Region 12 Alternate Information Officer
Rodel Miranda, Malapatan Project Evaluation Officer
Merlito Palarion, Glan Project Evaluation Officer
Prezy Requiso, Malungon Project Evaluation Officer