By FREDA MAE SORSANO and CHRISTY PALMA
ILOILO — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has turned over to farmers and farm operators in Brgy. San Antonio, Barotac Viejo town, the P2.9 million Agricultural Tramline System (ATS) project.
ATS is an alternative transport system used by farmers in hauling agricultural inputs and products to areas far from road networks.
It aims to reduce drudgery, hauling cost and intensive labor while speeding up hauling time, said Larry P. Nacionales, executive director of DA Region 6.
“Faster hauling means reaching more customers in lesser time, thus, lessening expenses and adding to the farmers’ income,” Nacionales said.
A study conducted by the DA–Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, or PHilMech, showed that farmers pay an average of P1.50 per kilogram of agricultural products in traditional hauling.
By means of ATS, farmers will only have to pay P0.50 per kilogram.
The San Antonio ATS is a bi-cable system with a hauling capacity of 350 kilograms per trip at recommended speed of 100–150 meters per minute.
The tramline, with a cable length of 1,241 meters, will cover 47 hectares of corn, cassava, upland rice, banana and vegetables being grown by 50 farmers.
It has a safe carrier design, automatic engine stop, upgraded cable and meter, and double-track cables, said Nacionales.
DA Secretary Proceso Alcala was present during the turnover ceremony the other day.
Presently, Western Visayas has 14 units out of 129 tramline projects implemented all over the country.
There are eight ATS units in Negros Occidental and six in Panay Island.
In Iloilo, another tramline project is already operational in Brgy. Alimono, Passi City.
Engr. Bartolome S. Tesorero Jr., DA–PHilMech science research specialist, conducted a hands-on workshop on the operation and maintenance of ATS with farm operators and farmer beneficiaries on March 27.
Tesorero warned the farmers not to overload the tramline. He reiterated that the facility is not designated for human transport.
He also told farmers to follow the proper maintenance and operating procedures to keep the facility running for 15–20 years or more./PN