Mechanized Agriculture

In Noto, Japan, agricultural machines are farmers’ best friend. Everywhere you go from the cities to the rural areas, one can observe agricultural machines on the rice fields. 

One can really be amazed on how Japan showcases features of modern and state-of-the-art agriculture. It is a different world from our local setting.  

A mechanized farming is a farmers’ dream. In Japan, this is a reality.  A trip to Senmaida Rice Terraces in the northern tip of Noto Peninsula from Kanazawa City, one can observe earth moving machines used by local farmers to work in their rice paddies and farms. It is rare to see more than three farmers working in the rice fields. There are more agricultural machines than people. 

Machines lessen agricultural labour while increasing production. From land preparation to the postharvest activities, the Japanese built agricultural machines to make farmers’ way of farming simplified, efficient and organized.  

Aside from this, their rice fields are carefully carved to accommodate machines. The rice paddy dikes are wide enough for small and medium agricultural machines to pass. There are also spaces at the rice fields which serve as some sort of parking or garage areas for machines. 

The visit to the Uchiura AgriService Cooperative in Noto Town during the Educational Field Exposure of the trainees of the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program along with two local executives of Hungduan and Mayoyao and the Ifugao State University was an overwhelming eye-opener. It is quite surprising coming from a developing country where the carabaos (water buffalo) is still plowing the rice fields.

Along the way, my mind went back to the times of the Mesopotamian period where four-legged animals were still tending the farms. 

The 81-hectare farm owner, Mr. Tadashi Sedzume, who was in his working clothes during the visit was another revelation. 

In Noto Region, there is participation of owners in the agricultural production process. Mr. Sedzume, who trained in Milwaukee in the United States, found his calling as a farmer. He owns a number of machines and post-harvest facilities located in his farm. 

His workers showed us a multiple-purpose machine they use in the farm to plant, reap, harvest, and thresh. 

Inside his milling building, more simple machines are operated. Aside from these, he also maintains shitake mushroom production houses where they use raw materials from the farm. Their practice and culture of “nothing goes to waste” is a way of life for them. There were no trace of waste to be found in the farm. It is an immaculate atmosphere for a work place. 

Mr. Sedzume revealed that he pays 8,000 Yen (an equivalent of P4, 000) daily to his farm workers. It was a mouth-watering daily wage.  Despite being a mediocre in computing numbers, my brain cells were triggered to some computations. When asked, one of the farmers told me that their daily wage is enough to compensate high cost of living. 

Mr. Sedzume also told us that his priced multiple machine is worth 17 million yen as a loan from their government. When we joked if he can donate some of his machines to IFSU, he gave us a hearty laugh. The landlord is a naturally happy person as he toured us around in his farm.  

Asked if he accepts foreign workers to work in his farm, Mr. Sedzume giggled and offered some of his harvested sweet potato.

In the evening, he came to visit us at our lodging house and brought some of his produce and of course, sake, the Japanese wine. With the sake, the evening went well with sharing and laughter in a typically silent and tranquil Noto Marine Lab.

Based from the observation, there is really disparity, a wide gap of farming technology between Philippines and Japan. 

But there is always hope that someday, our farmers here can also enjoy state-of-the-art and appropriate technology to increase production to feed the growing population.

Ifugao State University as the lone higher education institution in the province recognizes agriculture as a key to improve the quality of life of the people. With this, the University is geared to contribute in pioneering research and development for agriculture. #

-Jude C. Baggo