Maize farmers in rural Punjab, Pakistan, are realizing the benefits of mechanized harvest technology thanks to a Chinese-made maize cob picker which improves efficiency by 50 percent.
As part of an ‘Enhancing technology-based agriculture and marketing in rural Punjab’ project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), CABI is working in partnership to help demonstrate the machine and raise awareness of high to improve yields of maize corn cobs.
Demonstration and literacy training
In the first phase, a demonstration and literacy training plan were developed for eight villages – serving as pilot sties – in the districts Okara and Pakpattan of Punjab during June. This included demonstrating to 459 farmers how the maize cob picker works to speed-up the process of harvesting the crop from the field.
During second phase, technology demonstrations and literacy trainings were conducted in four pilot villages of district Pakpattan in Punjab where 453 farmers participated. In this way a total of 912 farmers participated in these demonstration and literacy training sessions. This was very encouraging and exceeded our target number of 400 farmers.
Improved soil fertility
During the training, it was highlighted to farmers how the cob picker could chop and incorporate the maize stalk into the soil to improve fertility and the next crop yield. The farmers were also given the opportunity to ask questions about the machinery including the costs per acre of renting it as well as issues around the aforementioned stubble management.
As usual, farmers appreciated the efforts done by team and they were very much interested in getting their crops harvested by the cob picker. In total, in the eight villages, farmers appreciated the practice of additional harvesting other than demonstrations, as small farmers can get benefit from this directly. Labour costs are high this time as compared to last season so farmers are preferring to use this opportunity of ‘free’ harvesting.
A new learning was also found in that, other than moisture content and sowing geometry, crop condition (ear size) also affects the machine efficiency. If ears are too small in size, for example due to the deficiency of fertilizers, then the machine will cut the cobs into pieces. This is because its cutters are designed and set for a certain size.
The team communicated this with the service provider and guided him about the solution. He has agreed to modify the cutters and make them adjustable for more sizes of ear size.
Overall, the response of farmers was great and most of the farmers expressed their willingness to harvest their crops by cob pickers in coming seasons. The field team also shared contact details of service providers with those farmers so that they can hire them easily for future seasons.
The work under the project is being carried out in coordination with the Government of Punjab’s Agriculture Department. The first demonstrations and literacy training sessions were held in 2020.
Main image: The mechanical maize cob picker has dramatically increased the efficiency of harvesting for farmers (Credit: CABI).
Dr Shakeel Ahmed and project team.
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