Report: Innovative Farm Management Practices to Improve Agri Productivity Study Mission, November 18-22, 2013, Japan

 

Group Photo

Group Photo

The activity aimed to enhance the participants’ knowledge and understanding of different innovative farm management practices to increase farm productivity; and to develop action plans for the dissemination and application of the relevant knowledge and best practices to increase farm productivity.

Farm management is a dynamic activity that requires constant innovations to increase and sustain farm productivity and cope up with the changing demands of the industry, both local and global. Limited knowledge on available technologies and best practices developed elsewhere reduces the opportunity of a farm to be more productive and competitive. The host country, Japan, is well advanced in innovative farm management practices. Developing countries could learn a lot from the practices and experiences of the host country.

Objectives for Participation

PCAARRD as a sectoral council of the Department of Science and Technology is the key and strategic actor in delivering science solutions, sets the vision and direction for S&T in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources (AANR) sector, and influences other relevant agencies to align their collective efforts towards such vision. Our vision is a sustained dynamic leadership in science and technology (S&T) innovation in the AANR sector. As such, PCAARRD is always looking for new ideas and innovations in the AANR sector that would raise productivity of farmers and improve quality of products. As a strategy, PCAARRD is now into operationalizing the Industry Strategic S&T Plans (ISPs). The sets of science solutions under each ISP seeks to maximize productivity, improve efficiency of distribution and marketing, strengthen S&T-based enterprises, and facilitate efficient transfer of S&T products to its desired customers.

As a senior staff of the agricultural resources management research division, I am actively involved in planning programs and other S&T activities particularly in the areas of soil and water resources management, waste management and agricultural machinery. I am also the lead person in charge of the Coffee ISP, hence conducting activities to achieve the ISP objectives.

The knowledge and understanding of different innovative farm management practices that I will gain from this training would upgrade my competence and capacity to plan, monitor and evaluate the S&T activities of the National Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Network (NARRDN) particularly those that concerns soil and water resources management, waste management, agricultural machinery, and the coffee industry. The learnings from the training would also update my knowledge on the emerging issues and challenges in farm management in Asian countries; trends and practices in farm management; innovations in farming operations, farm machinery, water resources management, waste management, and reducing environmental impacts in farm operations.

I look forward to meeting participants from other countries. The opportunity to interact, exchange ideas, and share experiences with them would be an interesting experience that would widen my horizon.

Profile of Participants

The activity was attended by 17 participants from 12 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam). There was only one Filipino participant.

Scope, Content and Methodology

• The first part of the study mission, held on the first day (November 18), consisted of presentations by Japanese resource persons on the following topics:

1) Precision agriculture technologies for reducing environmental impacts of farming (presented by Dr. Sakae Shibusawa of the Department of Environmental and Agricultural Engineering, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology)

2) Undertakings to ensure hygienic vegetable production in Japan and other countries (presented by Dr. Yasuhiro Inatu of the National Food Research Institute, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Pref.)

3) Development of agricultural mechanization technologies – from farm machinery to field robots (presented by Dr. Mikio Umeda, Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University and Director of Career Support Office, General Student Support Center at Kyoto University)

4) Future of agriculture, forestry and fisheries research (by Mr. Hajime Matsuo of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tokyo, Japan)

• The second part of the study mission (November 19-21) consisted of field visits. The participants visited the following:

1) Plant Factory, Chiba University – Kashiwano-ha Campus: The participants visited an Artificial-Light Plant Factory (APF), which is a type of closed plant production system used for commercial production of leaf vegetables. The APFs are applicable in urban areas.

2) Ushiku Farm, AEON Agri Create Co.Ltd. – Ibaraki Pref., Ushiku City: The first farm established by AEON, which is also a supermarket chain in Japan. The farm manager informed us that they established farms to ensure supply of vegetables in their supermarket. Main vegetable is cabbage.

3) National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba City: NARO demonstrated one of their farming robots designed for paddy agriculture. The researcher informed the group that robots were developed to address the problems of increasing abandoned farmland and increasing marginal settlements caused by aging farming communities, decreasing farming population, and small number of new farmers. The robot shown during the visit features autonomous running + automatic operation of working parts (running routes are determined in advance).

4) National Institute for Rural Engineering (NIFS) – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba City: The participants visited a field installed with Farm Oriented Enhancement Aquatic System (FOEAS). FOEAS is a water control system developed by NIFS for cultivation of upland crops in paddy fields. The system automatically supplies water and drains excess water through the underdrains and can keep the suitable condition for upland crops.

5) Kubota Agriculture Machinery Company, Tsukuba Factory – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba Mirai City: The group was toured around the production lines for Kubota tractors. The Kubota showroom features their line of tractors. Some of their tractors have airconditioning units, audio/radio, and GPS.

6) Presentation about biomass utilization by NARO – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba City: NARO presented the STING (Simultaneous reaction of Transesterification and thermal crackING) method of producing biodiesel from waste cooking oil. The process uses supercritical methanol. With the process, a catalyst is not needed; there is lower melting temperature, lower glycerin side production, and no wastewater.

7) Presentation by NARO Institute of Crop Science (NICS) about rice breeding – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba City: NARO presented their rice breeding activities. Major breeding objectives are: eating quality, grain quality, yield, resistance to disease and insect, adaptability for direct sowing. NARO introduced varieties for food service industry, varieties for high yield, varieties with functionality, and varieties for bread and noodle.

8) Tsukuba Agricultural Research Hall (Museum) – Ibaraki Pref., Tsukuba City: The group toured around the museum, where various tools used for farming during different eras are displayed.

9) Tako-machi Syun-no-aji Sanchoku Center – Chiba Pref., Katori-gun: The group observed direct sales of various vegetables.

10) WAGOEN (Agricultural Producers’ Cooperative Corporation) – Processing factory of frozen vegetables, biomass recycling center – Chiba Pref., Katori city: visited WAGOEN processing plant for vegetables. The WAGOEN representative informed us that they cut frozen vegetables according to requests from business partners (supermarkets and restaurants). Management strategies include selling products under contract, and providing products to various customers (avoiding increasing its dependence on certain business partners); Visited the recycling center and biomass plant of WAGOEN. Residues generated by the company and its partners is composted in the recycling center and returned to farm fields. The biomass plant consists of methane fermenter, which produces gas for vehicles, and condensed liquid fertilizer generator, which produces liquid fertilizer.

• On the last day of the mission, the participants discussed the learnings from the presentations and field visits, and developed action plans for the dissemination and application of the knowledge and best practices learned from the mission in their respective countries.

Outcomes and Evaluation

The study mission definitely enhanced the participants’ knowledge and understanding of different innovative farm management practices to increase farm productivity. As one of the participants, I learned a lot from the activity. The innovative farm management practices presented by the resource persons showed how advance their technologies are compared to our technologies, and how much opportunity we have to develop our technologies. Being able to observe the innovative farm management practices in Japan provided insight on the possible technologies/innovations that can be developed or adapted for the Filipino farmers. Some

innovative farm management practices that could be developed, applied, or adapted for Philippine conditions are the plant factory, using precision agriculture technologies (e.g. GPS, GIS, soil map, soil sensor) to increase productivity and use resources efficiently, agricultural infrastructure and irrigation management (water control system for cultivation of upland crops in paddy fields), the vegetable processing, the biomass plant (methane fermenter) and condensed liquid fertilizer generator.

The resource persons and the farm managers were very knowledgeable in their presentations. They were able to effectively impart the information to the participants.

Combining lecture with field visit is a very effective method of learning. The innovative farm management practices presented during lectures are better appreciated when actually observed in the field. Also, discussions on field with farmers and farm managers provided additional information on their actual experiences.

Recommendations and Action Steps

Many of the innovative farm management practices learned through the lectures and the field visits are applicable in Philippine condition. Some of the practices that could be developed, applied, or adapted for Philippine conditions are the plant factory, using precision agriculture technologies (e.g. GPS, GIS, soil map, soil sensor) to increase productivity and use resources efficiently, agricultural infrastructure and irrigation management (water control system for cultivation of upland crops in paddy fields), the vegetable processing, the biomass plant (methane fermenter) and condensed liquid fertilizer generator.

The strategies presented could be emulated in coming up with our own innovations. Possible partnerships with the Japanese researchers or farm managers could be explored to enhance current initiatives or locally develop appropriate innovative technologies or farm management practices.

Submitted by

MS. MARIA TERESA DE GUZMAN
Senior Science Research Specialist
Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development
Department of Science and Technology

 

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