Monday, April 22, 2019

IRRI joins regional discussion on mechanization of grain harvesting

Demonstration of a wheat combine in Bhairahawa district, Terai Region, Nepal.

IRRI’s  Mechanization and Postharvest Cluster participated in a traveling seminar on Mechanized Grain Harvesting for Smallholder Farmers in Nepal and Asia in Nepal on 25-29 March 2019 .

The event aimed to identify mechanization research and learning areas across South and Southeast Asia, particularly Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. The traveling seminar included field visits and a workshop on farmers’ grain wheat harvesting, interactions with various distributors, service providers and operators of emerging technologies on rice harvesting at Nepal’s Terai Region.

Dr. Timothy Krupnik, Lead of CSISA Bangladesh, said that CSISA is addressing challenges in smallholder farmers’ productivity and that the traveling seminar is an avenue to stimulate ideas for collaborative research around markets and market system on appropriate mechanization.

Engr. Caling Balingbing of IRRI’s Mechanization and Postharvest Cluster presented experiences on the mechanization of rice harvesting through combine harvesting adoption in Southeast Asia, such as labor savings, reduction of harvesting losses and cost. He also cited the common trajectory of the adoption process: (1) introduction of the technology,  (2)  adaptation stage which address major problems during piloting phase; and (3) the adoption phase which includes establishment of market demand and consolidation of local manufacturers. Other participants from Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam  shared in-country learnings on the introduction and adoption of combine harvesting.

Scott Justice, CSISA’s Mechanization and Irrigation Consultant in Nepal, facilitated the field visits that showcased equipment distributors, farmers fields, and service providers of rice and wheat combines, reapers and tractors.Participants learned that combine harvesters from India is commonly used in  Bhairahawa District because of labor scarcity brought by labor migration. There are around 150 combine harvesters in the district that provide harvesting services to farmers, where one combine can harvest 118 hectares per day and service fee costs 8000 rupees per hectare. The participants also visited farmers’ fields in Bhairahawa where reapers on a two-wheel tractor are mostly used in 0.6-hectare farm sizes because the cost is cheaper than  manual harvesting. The unavailability and costly spare parts were identified as one of the main challenges.

“Along the Midwest Terai Region in Bardiya District, the  Mega T reaper-tiller has been widely  used 15 years ago from an IRRI-designed reaper and now it is coming back because of labor scarcity issues,” Justice explained.

Dr. Li Hongwen of the China Agricultural University shared about the success of agricultural mechanization in China. “Since 1950, the government established colleges or universities on agricultural mechanization in different provinces. Now, there are around 20. Presently, the country is producing around 200,000 combine harvesters per year that are sold locally and internationally,” he added.

The participants also discussed important issues related to appropriate mechanized cereal harvesting technologies, including technical and engineering needs; value chain and access; social equity and women’s access; and, training, outreach, and awareness.

The event was organized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) under the under its USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA).

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