The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech) is eyeing the construction of more tramlines from 2012 to 2016 in addition to those that will be completed this year. A total of 107 tramlines are set to be completed before the end of this year, with 53 completed as of the middle of 2011.
For 2012 to 2016, DA-PhilMech is eyeing 156 more tramlines in various parts of the country, with each costing around P2 million for a span of one to two kilometers. Of the 156 tramlines to be built from 2012 to 2016, 89 will be established in Luzon.
While the DA-PhilMech has proposed around P312 million for the new tramlines, the cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) and farmer organizations is also needed for the maintenance and operation of the system. A concerned LGU can also help finance the construction of a tramline in its area. A tramline system usually spans one to two kilometers.
“The success of the tramline project, especially in the very mountainous areas, has been very encouraging. Transport costs for agricultural produce are reduced by half, post harvest losses are decreased and transport time is faster,” said DA-PhilMech Executive Director Ricardo L. Cachuela.
Based on DA-PhilMech field studies, the losses of transporting agricultural products transported by porters, horse or mules along mountainous areas reach as much 25%. With tramlines, postharvest losses are reduced to as low as 5% to 10%.
In transport costs, porters who usually use horses and mules to transport agricultural products through mountainous areas charge at least P10 per kilo. On the other hand, transporting with the use of tramlines costs P5 per kilo.
“Reduced transport cost and postharvest losses can easily translate into additional income for farmers,” Cachuela said.
He added that besides agricultural produce, the new tramlines can also be designed to carry a number of people, usually four. Tramlines are also be used to transport farm inputs like fertilizers and chemicals.
To date, DA-PhilMech has designed four prototypes of tramlines. The tramline project of DA-PhilMech dates back to the days when the agency was still the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE). BPRE became PhilMech in November 2009 with the issuance of Executive Order No. 366. Compared to BPRE, PhilMech has a more pronounced mandate to promote mechanization in the Philippine agriculture sector. Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy, Director, Applied Communication Division, PhilMech, DA