By Mabelle Roa - Ilan

Marketing of produce is one of the problems of farmers in the rural areas especially those in the hilly and mountainous areas of the region. There are also places in the region that are hard to reach as they are separated by rivers, ravines and with no roads. It is a common sight in these areas farmers carrying the products on their back by foot, others are using a sled being pulled by a carabao, horse or cow and for those crossing rivers they use bamboo rafts in transporting their products. With this mode of transporting products farmers ultimately get more damage on their produce and only a small portion of their produce are sold in the market. Thus, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization developed the agricultural tramline systems to facilitate transport of farm produce and at the same time minimize production losses. Based on the study conducted by PhilMech post-harvest losses was recorded at 40-60% in horticultural crops in difficult areas with no road network and no transport system.

The tramline is considered as one of the safest, cheap, fast transport system of farm products and agricultural inputs from the mountainous areas to the nearest road network. Aside from this it is easy to maintain. It reduces transport time from hours to minutes and as much as 60 percent from hauling cost. With these, farmers would get better price from their produce, minimize damage and rotting, and ultimately obtain good profit.

The province of Catanduanes is one of the recipients of the aggie tramline project. It has two sites one in Burgos, Viga and the other one is in San Miguel, Panganiban. The project could benefit at least 400 farmers with an influence area of 360 hectares. There are two kinds or designs of tramline systems. The province installed the Bicable Tramline System which utilizes traction cable and track cable. It is a stationary cable wherein the carrier is attached and supports the loads. It is best for long distances and steep slopes, and has high loading capacity. The second type is the monocable wherein it uses a single continuous loop of cable designed to carry series of loads. It is attached to the carrier and propels the loads. It is flexible to curbs and has high hauling capacity. The tramline is simply a hauling facility that is made of steel cables, pulleys, carriers, posts, power house, and loading and unloading platforms. It is designed to carry 500 kilos of harvest vegetables and fruits from plantation to the road side. It can also be used to haul agricultural inputs.

An important feature of the tramline is that it can reduce hauling cost, energy and time. The wire cables will provide a faster link between upland / downhill farms and the main road leading to the trading post. It also remove the dependence on the porter system of hauling vegetables that spoils and damage fruits and vegetables during the transport.

“The tramline is a great help to us,” says Governor Joseph Cua . He said that it usually takes them hours to transport farm inputs and produce, but now it would only take them minutes to do these with the tramline. Aside from this, some of the produce are rotting because it cannot be brought to the market and farmers suffer the losses. Gov. Cua plans to prepare project proposal for the expansion of the tramline as there are more farmers in the upland that would benefit if a monocable will be established as part of the expansion of the project. According to the Governor farmers appreciated a lot the importance of the tramline. With the project more farmers in the two municipalities were encouraged to plant and produce more vegetables, rootcrops and other commodities. He said that the LGU of Catanduanes is always willing to support the farmers and they are bent on modernizing agriculture in the province in order to achieve their goal of food security and increased production.

Agriculture Regional Executive Director Jose V. Dayao also said that with the operation of the tramline farmers will be encouraged to produce more as they could now transport their produce to the nearest market with minimal damage. Dayao assured Gov. Cua that the project proposal for an expansion will be endorsed to PhilMech to ensure that nearby barangays would also benefit from the project. The director believes that remote areas not accessible by any form of transport and those with poor road will greatly benefit from the tramline systems. He encouraged all LGUs with similar terrain as Viga and Panganiban in Cantaduanes to submit proposals for the tramline systems. One unit of tramline costs about Ps 2million pesos. On the part of the DA it has identified areas where tramlines are viable and more farmers could benefit from it. He added that Catanduanes is the first recipient of the tramline systems in the region, with a total amount of Ps 4,779,240.00. Other sites for construction include: Amtic, Ligao City in Albay and Matacong, San Lorenzo Ruiz in Camarines Norte.

Now, with the services of the tramline system, farmers in Viga and Panganiban experienced the efficiency and ease in transporting their produce to the nearest road network and at the same time a much safer alternative transport system to the market centers which they never experienced before.