2 Bicolano farmers develop  mechanical weeder  

Two  Bicolano  farmer leaders from barangay  Cagmanaba,  Ocampo, Camarines Sur  have developed a mechanical weeder  that  will  reduce   labor cost by almost  half, save on time and energy  and   aerate the  soil while turning weeds  back  into the soil to decompose, thus, contribute to over-all rice production efficiency.    Carlito Aquino,  deputized Magsasaka Siyentista and president of a farmers   organization together with  Gil Pentrante, deputized Local Farmer  Technician (LFT) worked together  to  develop  the  weeder.  Penetrante who is a formally trained and skilled as a machinist designed  the machine with inputs and  ideas  contributed  by Aquino who is  a former military man but is now a fulltime farmer and  organic  agriculture advocate and practitioner. The 4- row weeder  is designed for the  prescribed rice planting  distance of 25 x 25   under  the System of Rice Intensification or SRI  scheme.  

The  design is similar to  the cono weeder   with an engine,  curved handle and 4 cage wheels  or rotator  and four ( 4) balancers in front and two (2) at the back. The weeder is    powered by a V50 hp  motor  from a discarded  motorcycle which consumes  1 liter of gasoline per hour.  It is mounted on top of the unit.  It    can churn  the weeds  in  a hectare within 8 hours  (crosswise).   It requires a  3-man team to act as operator and  help in the hauling or lifting  of the machine  as its makes a turn at the end of each rice row.   The overall expense that a farmer  will spend  for labor and gasoline is P1,260.50 per hectare .   Compared to the natural and manual weeding practice a farmer usually spends  about P2,500 for ten persons per hectare.  Thus a saving of about  50% will be realized by farmers when  using this weeder. For the   initial fabrication  Aquino said they spent  about  P30,000 , with the bulk of the  expenses going to the purchase of the   second hand engine.  

DA Bicol regional executive  director Abelardo R.  Bragas  who himself is an agricultural engineer  personally invited Mr. Aquino to the DA to conduct a demonstration of their invention.  He suggested  to use a single  piston  power engine to make it lighter and to reduce   the fabrication cost. Bragas  commended the farmer  inventors for their   inititiave and innovations and promised to support  them to further refine, fine tune and have the  weeder  patented  in their name.  He said that the DA  encourages farmers innovations and participation in the development of farm equipment and machineries  and technologies  to make them more appropriate  to local conditions  and   for farmers to have the ownership for these innovations or inventions.    He  committed to have a  palay shed  constructed  at the farm of Mr. Aquino where   he and Mr. Penetrante can further  work on and polish  their invention.    He also asked the research  division, headed by Luz Marcelino to help  the inventors in complying with the requirements in   securing the  patent for the invention and also directed the Engineering  Division  to extend the necessary technical assistance and the Information Division to help in the packaging  and documentation of the  invention.

 Mr. Aquino  will present their invention during the  1st  National Congress on Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on February 20 at the Manila Hotel. (Emily B. Bordado/ACS- DA  RFO5)