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ISSN : 1225-8504(Print)
ISSN : 2287-8165(Online)
Journal of the Korean Society of International Agriculture Vol.29 No.3 pp.242-250

Farmer’s Perception on Farm mechanization and Land reformation in the Philippines

Elmer G Bautista*, Jong-sun Kim**, Yun-jung Kim***, Maria Evic Panganiban****
*Senior science research specialist, Philippine Rice Research Institute
**Research fellow, Korea Rural Economic Institute
***Researcher, Korea Rural Economic Institute
****Specialist, Department of Agriculture, Philippines

This study is a result of the KAPEX program in which a joint research was conducted by Korea and the Philippines in 2015.

January 12, 2016 August 24, 2017 September 12, 2017


This paper describes Philippine farmers’ perception on farm mechanization and land reformation. For a survey, 280 farmers were interviewed. According to the survey, Philippine farmerrespondents seem to recognize the many advantages of using farm machines over manual, even if these are expensive and will certainly displace laborers. Although land reformation is known to only one third of the farmers, they understand it as a way of re-structuring roads and fields, and will ease farm management. Philippine farmers’ awareness of farm mechanization and land reformation appears to be very low and they also have financial problems when they consider to adopt farm mechanization and land reformation. Therefor, it is very essential to raise farmer’s awareness and also provide financial subsidy to farmers who have willingness to adopt mechanization and land reformation. Also introduction of farm land bank system like korean experience is recommended as one of alternatives.

필리핀 농업인의 농기계 도입 및 농지개혁에 대한 인식

엘머 바티스타*, 김 종선**, 김 윤정***, 마리아 에빅 판가니반****
*필리핀 미작연구소
****필리핀 농업부



    The Philippine government has been striving to develop and promote appropriate agricultural machinery and other mechanization technologies. It is well known that agricultural mechanization raises the efficiency of farm operations and inputs, and lowers production costs and postharvest losses. Therefore, this would help address poverty, social equity, and food security, and enhance agricultural competitiveness and sustainable development leading to increased farmers’ income.

    However, the Philippines is classified at low-mechanization level(Suministrado, 2013). Several reasons are: low buying power of farmers, abundance of rural labor, very small landholdings per farmer, high cost of machines, and government policies not favorable to mechanizing agriculture.

    Promoting farm mechanization in the Philippines has also been constrained by the small-sized, un-accessible rice fields especially during the rainy season, irregular, and nongeometric- shaped farm areas. Mechanizing these lands can be inefficient due to too much maneuvering in operations like land preparation and harvesting. The use of machinery and other large-scale agricultural practices is hampered.

    To enhance farm mechanization and application of advanced technology in small farm size production systems, therefore, it is necessary to rearrange small farm lots to clusters of economic size. This entails the reformation and re-allotment of land parcels to achieve economy of scale, as well as the organization of farmers into functional groups.

    The Philippine government had pursued farm clustering and utilized farmers’ organizations to implement mechanization programs. While the scheme enhanced farmers’ awareness on the use of farm machinery, its utilization was not fully maximized due to inappropriateness of the machines to the random lay-out, irregular-shaped and small-sized farms. Unavailable access roads prevented machines from easily traversing each rice field. Irrigation water was also not efficiently utilized at farmers’ level because of uneven landscape of rice fields.

    To enhance mechanization in the Philippines, the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law was enacted in 2013. The law recognizes the importance of agricultural mechanization as a significant contributor in agricultural development. It promulgates the (a) promotion of appropriate Agriculture and Fishery mechanization technologies to increase agricultural productivity for food security and safety and increase farmers income; (b) improvement and the local assembling and manufacturing industry; (c) development and enforcement of standards, testing and evaluation, and registration of A/F machineries to ensure their quality and safety; and accreditation of suppliers, assemblers and manufacturers for their compliance to quality standards; (d) improvement of support services including marketing and credit facilities, research, training and extension programs, infrastructures, and postharvest facilities; (e) strengthen implementation of Agriculture and Fishery mechanization programs; and (f) provision of integrated support services to farmers and stakeholders for the successful operation and management of Agriculture and Fishery mechanization projects. This law created the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) that will be the head of all agricultural engineering concerns under the Department of Agriculture. Moreover, a National Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Plan will also be implemented to hasten agricultural mechanization in the country and address underlying issues.

    One of the few countries that have accomplished rapid growth and development in agricultural mechanization over a short period of time is Korea. Such mechanization became a foundation not only for the rural areas but also for the economic development in Korea. The opportunity to learn of the Farm Mechanization Policy in Korea through the KAPEX program(Korean Agricultural Policy Experiences for Food Security) has contributed a lot to our full understanding of the critical role of mechanization in improving agricultural productivity and achieving food self-sufficiency in the Philippines. Its success can be largely attributed to the socio-economic demand for agricultural mechanization and financial support, as well as the strong policy drive and financial support by the Korean government. In addition, the farmers desired mechanized farming.

    While Korea and the Philippines differ in agricultural setups and human cultures, some lessons can be learned from Korea’s experiences in successful agricultural mechanization. The Farmland Bank System was created in Korea. This Farmland Bank System helps to consolidate land (making the size of farms bigger), purchase and preserve farmlands to stabilize land market value, support farmers in debt, use farmlands as basis of pension for aged farmers, lease farmlands to professional farmers, and guide senior farmers who no longer want to continue farming in selling their land to professional farmers (KREI, 2015). The participants from the KAPEX training program in 2015 were especially fascinated, as they asked more lectures and on-sites visiting for Korean Farmland Bank System. After the project finished, the Philippine officials have been held several workshop and conferences with emphasis of on the introduction of the Farmland Bank System through post-KAPEX project. They have shared their opinion and discussion to adopt the Farmland Bank System localized.

    Korean agricultural policy experiences and technology development can serve as basic reference for policy consultations and collaborative projects in the Philippines, where information on the technical, economic, and operational feasibility of land reformation is limited. Major interest of the Philippine government is to develop the agricultural sector to make it more profitable, productive, and responsive to the food security needs of the country.

    In this context of the Philippines’ agricultural mechanization, the purpose of this study is to identify farmers’ perception on farm mechanization and farm land reformation.

    2.Status of farm mechanization of the Philippines

    Table 1 shows the level of Philippine’s agricultural mechanization in selected crops/products such as rice and corn, vegetables, legumes and root crops, coconut, sugarcane, fruits and fiber crops. It can be noticed that the level of mechanization in different operations in most of the crops/products are low aside from sugarcane, which are usually owned by big corporations.

    Though harvesting is done manually, sugarcane has relatively higher level of mechanization in different operations ranging from intermediate to high for land preparation, low to intermediate for transplanting, low to high for cultivation. In land preparation only rice, corn and sugarcane have intermediate to high level. Availability of imported, locally fabricated and second hand (imported) hand tractors in plowing and harrowing operations has increased the level of mechanization in land preparation operations. Milling or village level processing in rice and corn has also high level of agricultural mechanization. Small-scale rice millers used rubber roll rice milling machines while big rice millers used modern rice mills (Amongo et al. 2011).

    Other operations in most of the crop are still manually done. Drying in the farmers level is usually through sun drying using roads and multipurpose pavements such as basketball courts.

    As shown in Table 2, although the level of agricultural mechanization in the Philippines has improved recently, this is relatively lower than other neighbor countries such as Japan with 18.9hp(horse power)/ha, South Korea with 9.4 hp/ha and China (8.4hp/ha) in 2011.

    Among the members of the Southeast Asia which the Philippines have Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), it also shows that the Philippines has low level of mechanization through the number of tractors available. As shown in Table 3, less than 2 percent of the total number of 4- wheel tractors is located in the Philippines while 90 percent could be found in Thailand and Vietnam, the major exporting countries of agricultural products in the ASEAN region. For hand tractors, commonly used for rice production, however, the Philippines ranks second with estimated total number of units of one million. In terms of estimated total capacity (in horsepower), the Philippines ranks third with total capacity of 10 million horsepower.

    As discussed above, there are still more things to do when it comes to the agricultural mechanization of the country. In today’s scenario wherein there are many new technologies available for agriculture, the Philippine agriculture sector in general is still characterized by low production level, high post harvest losses and inability to transform their raw form to high quality products.


    In order to identify Philippine farmers’ perception of farm mechanization and farm land reformation, farmers were interviewed with structured questionnaires1). A survey questionnaire was finalized after a pilot survey to gather ideas and views from farmer-respondents related to land reformation. Two rounds of pre-testing were conducted at Barangay Bical, Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija where accomplished kind of foundation project with JICA and FAO. The questionnaire was then revised and reproduced for actual interview in the target sites where the Philippine government considered as future related project sites.

    280 farmers available during the entire data collection period in the target sites were interviewed. The data were collected through a face-to-face interview using the questionnaire including farm profile (e.g. size of farm devoted to rice and other crops, number of parcels, and rice yield), socio-demographic profile (e.g. age and educational attainment) status of mechanization, and land reformation (e.g. farmers’ perceptions, concerns on implementation, and suggested solutions).Table 4

    In order to analyze farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation, the data were analyzed using the Probit regression model. The Probit model constraints the estimated probabilities to be between 0 and 1, and relaxes the constraints that the effect of independent variables is constant across different predicted values of the dependent variable. In common parlance, the probit model assumes an S-shaped response curve such that in each tail of the curve the dependent variable, Pr(Yi = 1), responds slowly to changes in the independent variables, while toward the middle of the curve, i.e., toward the point where Pr(Yi = 1) is closest to 0.5, the dependent variable responds more swiftly to changes in the independent variables. The probit model assumes that while values of 0 and 1 are observed for the variable Y, there is a latent, unobserved continuous variable Y that determines the value of Y. We assume that Y can be specified as follows:

    P i = P r ( Y = 1 | x ) = F ( X β )

    Where Pr denotes probability and F is the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the standard normal distribution. The parameters β were typically estimated by maximum likelihood estimation method. The dependent variable (Y) in the model represents the farmer’s willingness or unwillingness to adopt land consolidation. A vector regressor (Xi) represents those independent variables or the socio-economic factors that may influence the decision to land-consolidate.

    Fourteen variables were included in the probit model that would explain farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation. These are organizational membership, with area devoted for seed production, ecosystem, with diversified cropping, tenure, age, farming experience, household size, per capita income, distance to the road, distance to irrigation canal, number of machines owned, household labor available per hectare, and land per capita. It was assumed that these matters will influence farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation.

    The descriptive statistics were generated using Microsoft Excel, and SPSS (version 20) was used in the probit regression analysis.

    4.Result and Discussion

    4.1.Farm landholding

    As a result of the survey conducted by the KAPEX program in 2015, 30% of the farmer-respondents tended to depend on farming as their sole source of income while 15% were engaged in non-farming activities. The remaining 55% were engaged in both farming and non-farming activities.

    The average landholding of the respondents was 2.02 ha per farmer. The number of plots cultivated by a farmer ranges from 1 to 120. The average is approximately 15 plots per household, while farm size varies from 0.14 to 38.0 ha. Land reformation through government support system is necessary to develop rice fields and improve the plot size into an economic scale to at least 10 plots per hectare. Doing this will improve the efficiency of machinery utilization due to less unproductive time during turnings.

    Respondents were composed of 65% farmers having 1-3 hectares each, 24% having less than a hectare, and 11% having more than 3 ha. From the average farm area of 2.02 ha, 1.83 ha was devoted for rice production, 0.15 ha for other crops, and 0.03 ha was unplanted. On the average, majority (78%) own the farms by themselves, while 22% rent the farms.

    The Pearson’s product-moment correlation analysis showed a correlation between the land area and number of machines owned (r(280) = .2543, p < .0005). This was run to assess the relationship between total farm area owned and machine ownership of the farmer- respondents. There is a positive but weak correlation found which indicated that as farm landholding increases, machine ownership also increases. The result also showed that land consolidation, or grouping of farmers in an organization, will boost their capacity to own agricultural machines.

    4.2.Machine ownership and utilization.

    According to survey on machine ownership and utilization( Table 5), only 5% of farmers owned a four-wheel tractor. This Tractor tended to be very seldom used in the farm because of limited access roads. Majority of farmers (51%) owned hand tractors and utilized it more because such tractors can do plowing, harrowing, leveling, and even hauling of farm inputs and outputs.

    Small trucks that haul farm inputs and paddy harvest were also few due to road access problems. Low ownership and utilization of shallow tube wells was due to high cost of fuel. Certain farmer-respondents (60%) owned knapsack sprayers for pesticide application. Only 1% of farmer-respondents had a combine-harvester and 9% of them rent the machine. 16% of farmers had a axial-flow thresher, the most popular equipment for threshing that can enter inner fields with limited road access because it can be pulled by a carabao. However, machine ownership at the study sites was higher than the national data because these sites have implemented international project from JICA and FAO.

    In relation to farm machine utilization per operation (Table 6), land preparation was 100% mechanized using hand and four-wheel tractors for plowing and harrowing. Seedling preparation and pulling seems to be manually done; 18% used machine for hauling of seedlings from seedbed to the production area. Transplanting was done manually but five farmer-respondents(0.8%) used the drum seeder in direct seeding. Only 14% of the farmers used water pumps for irrigation. About 50% used hand tractors in hauling farm inputs and 50% used man-animal. 15% used the reaper or combine-harvester for harvesting. Majority of farmers(85%) used the axial-flow thresher.

    4.3.Farmers’ perceptions on farm mechanization

    In addition, these survey included problem in farming, recognition, advantage, and disadvantage of mechanization in order to measure farmers’ perception on farm mechanization.

    According to farmer’s perception on farm mechanization( Table 7), farmer-respondents cited problems in farming as pests and diseases (43%); weather (16%); irrigation water supply (10%); low price of paddy rice (9%); high cost of farm inputs (9%); and limited capital (7%). Minor problems are availability of machines (1%); low productivity (1.3%); and farm labor (3.6%).

    The result from recognition of mechanization shows that farm mechanization will develop more effective farming. Almost half of farmer-respondents(44%) recognized that farm mechanization will make farming easier; 11% need to adopt new rice farming technologies; 12% said mechanization will displace labor. Some of them believed that farm machines are advantageous in large farms only (4%), and decrease cost of production (3%). Many farmers (13%) presented no idea and did not respond to the question.

    Farmers appear to consider machines as working faster than manual (65%); less cost of production (9.3%); less manpower in the field (5.4%); favorable to farmers (6.8%); less harvest loss (1.4%); and no constraint to weather (4.6%). The disadvantages of mechanization are: displacement of labor (42%); expensive cost of machines (8.6%); additional maintenance cost (3.6%); not suitable to Philippine conditions (4.3%); increases crimes (3.6%); and additional production cost (3.6%). Farmers said provision of alternative sources of income (45.4%) and government subsidy to machines (29%) could ease local farm mechanization.

    4.4.Farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation

    Probit regression analysis is used to figure out farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation(Table 8). The dependent variable (Y) represents the willingness or unwillingness of farmer-respondents to adopt the land reformation program. The vector of regression (Xi) represents those independent variables that explain the outcome of the dependent variable in the model.

    The model identified three variables that influence farmers’ willingness to adopt: organizational membership, engagement in seed production, distance to the irrigation canal. Two variables(non-organizational membership and not seed growing) have positive effects on willingness to adopt except distance from the irrigation canal.

    This means that farmers whose farms are far from the irrigation canal may no longer value the advantages of land reformation. An organization would help farmer-members to acquire expensive machines, plan community programs, and offer more income to farmers due to broadened scope of works. Seed growing is also a deciding factor for land reformation because of higher income earning per unit area of land. As the farmer ages, the number of his family labor tends to affect his decision to join land reformation, although this variable is not statistically significant. Other variables do not affect their decisions.

    4.5.Farmers’ perceptions on land reformation

    According to farmers’ perception on land reformation( Table 9), advantages of land reformation were: increase farm productivity (25%); improve roads and irrigation canals (18%); increase cultivated area (13%); reduce time for farm activities (15%); easier to manage fields (17%); and increase machine efficiency(4%).

    Meanwhile, Farmers tended to recognize that bigger plots resulted from land reformation is as well-leveled fields. Respondents also believed that bigger plots make irrigation and applying pesticides or fertilizers easier. In addition, farmers recognized that bigger plots also have advantages in increasing farm productivity and cultivated area, making farming machines more efficient, and making crop management easier.

    However, only one third of farmer-respondents know about land reformation and these respondents were able to recognize the advantage and disadvantage of land reformation. Majority of farmer-respondents were not willing to shoulder the expenses for land reformation because leveling cost is too expensive for them although they know land reformation is necessary for the improvement of their farms. They also worried about reduction of farm area because of roads and irrigation canals.


    The survey was conducted in order to identify Philippine farmer’s perception on the farm mechanization and land reformation. Philippine farmers seem to recognize the many advantages of using farm machines over manual, even if these are costly and will certainly displace laborers. These could be alleviated through the provision of alternative sources of income and subsidy for machine acquisition.

    Although land reformation is known to only one third of the farmers, they understand it as a way of re-structuring roads and fields, and will ease farm management. Philippine farmers believe that through land reformation, farm productivity will increase, irrigation and roads will be improved, cultivated area will expand, and less time for farm activities will be needed. Road access to farms is very essential to them but the cost must be shouldered by the government.

    Philippine farmers’ awareness of farm mechanization and land reformation appears to be very low and they also have financial problems when they consider to adopt farm mechanization and land reformation. Therefore, it is very essential to raise farmer’s awareness and also provide financial subsidy to farmers who have willingness to adopt mechanization and land reformation.

    In addition, the Philippine government needs to consider Korea’s agricultural experiences as a good model because Korea has achieved success land consolidation with high agricultural mechanization and improvement of agricultural productivity. Especially, the Philippine government is continually interested in Farmland Bank System learned through KAPEX training program and also tries to keep discussion of the Farmland Bank System on localization. Hence, Korean government needs to support ODA project to apply the Farmland Bank System with appropriate local situation in order to develop farm mechanization.

    To localize Korea’s agricultural experience in the Philippine, it will be necessary to set up polices such as Farmland Bank system and Hiring Farm Machinery Project. Since The Philippines import most agricultural machinery from other countries, it could be very expensive to farmers and could be hard to fix and maintain the machine. In this case, a project like hiring farm machinery will be helpful especially to farmers. In addition, through the farm land bank system in which farmers could buy or sell farm land easily, farmers’ farming size will be larger. In oder to raise farmers’ awareness of farm mechanization and land reformation, it will be good idea to introduce public organization such as training center for farm machinery in a local farm area.

    적 요

    필리핀 농업인 280명을 대상으로 농기계 도입 및 농지개혁 에 대한 인식조사를 실시하였으며, 이를 바탕으로 정책적 시 사점을 제시하였음.

    1. 응답자들은 수작업 보다는 농기계를 이용한 것에 많은 장 점이 있음을 인식하고 있으나 농기계구입 비용과 농업기계화 로 인한 농업노동자 감소에 대한 우려를 보이고 있음.

    2. 농지개혁을 통해 농업생산성 향상, 관개시설 개선, 경작 면적 확대 등에 도움이 될 것으로 인식하고 있으나 경지정리 작업의 어려움이 클 것으로 응답하였음.

    3. 그러나 대체로 필리핀 농업인은 농기계 도입 및 농지개 혁에 대한 인식이 낮은 편이며, 이를 위한 재정적인 문제를 가지고 있음.

    4. 따라서 농기계와 농지개혁의 필요성에 대한 필리핀 농 업인의 인식 개선을 위한 교육 및 훈련과 정부의 재정 지원 이 필요함. 또한 한국의 농지은행제도와 농기계임대사업 등 과 같은 정책을 도입할 필요가 있음.



    Level of mechanization by selected crops/products in the Philippines

    Source: Suministrado (2013)

    Comparative mechanization level of some countries

    Source: Agricultural Machinery information Network(agMachIN) (

    Estimated number of tractors by ASEAN countries, 2012

    1Estimated by multiplying 910hp and 10hp to the total number of units of 4-wheel and hand tractor, respectively
    2Data on 4-wheel tractor is just an assumption by applying the ratio of 4-wheel and hand tractor of the ASEAN with the available data of Indonesia on hand tractor
    Source: Suministrado (2013)

    Characteristics of surveyed farmers

    Farmer-respondent’s machine ownerships(%)

    Note: multiple selection available

    Rate of farm mechanization (%) per farm operation.

    Farmers’ perception on farm mechanization

    Probit Regression Analysis of farmers’ willingness to adopt land reformation.

    Redundant variables = [Organizational member], [Seed growing], [Irrigated land use], [Multiple crops], [Land owner]
    **indicate significance at one percent level,
    *indicate significance at five percent level

    Farmers’ perception on land reformation


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