Agricultural Tramline Makes Hauling of Produce Easier
Upland farming wouldn’t be grueling with the agricultural tramline system. It’s a ropeway for fast, easy, and cheap transport of produce from farms on the mountains to the nearest roads.
It reduces hauling cost to as much as 60 percent and transport time from hours to just minutes. So farmers could sell vegetables and other perishable crops fresh and in good shape and this mean’s extra profit.
Compared to farm-to-market roads which are far more expensive to construct and maintain in the upland, tramline has lower investment cost. Its design is also simple, hence it is easy to construct, operate, and maintain.
There are two designs. The Monocable Tramline System uses a single continuous loop of cable designed to carry series of load spaced at a parallel interval. It is a, moving cable that is attached to the carrier and propels the loads. It is flexible to curves and has a high hauling capacity.
The Bicable Tramline System, on one hand, utilizes traction cable and track cable, but it is smaller than the track cable. It is a stationary cable wherein the carrier is attached and supports the loads. It is best for long distances and steep slopes, and has high loading capacity.
The investment cost ranges from P800,000 to P1,000,000 per kilometer, depending on the condition of the location. The succeeding length is cheaper as the powerhouse need not be doubled. However, higher investment cost is needed in remote locations due to higher labor cost. This is why most of the tramlines are put up through grants. As of now, majority of the tramlines are set up in Benguet.
NATIONAL TRAMLINE PROJECT
The Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) is implementing a National Program for Agricultural Tramline Systems to establish pilot tramline projects. It aims to exhibit the benefits of the system among stakeholders and to commercialize the technology.
One beneficiary is Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. This town that is about 40 kilometers away from San Jose City is chosen as it is a vegetable-producing area.
Most of this mountainous area was planted to vegetables, rice and beans, but it had been hard to reach as rivers and ravines separate the production area from the road. Farmers were also discouraged to use organic fertilizer as it was a hassle carrying it to the mountains due to its bulkiness.
These are the reasons why a tramline system is badly needed in this town. Inaugurated in 2007, the Carranglan Agricultural Tramline Project is a collaborative project of BPRE, Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit III (DA-RFU III), Nueva Ecija Provincial Government, and the Municipal Government of Carranglan.
“The tramline has really been a great help to us,” says Rogelio Mindanao, chairman of Capintalan Farmer’s Association in Carranglan. He said that it usually takes them hours to transport farm inputs and produce, but it only takes them minutes to do these with the tramline.
Farmers only pay 1.50 centavos to transport a kilo of vegetables and RIO per sack of rice. This is far cheaper than the cost of labor, Mindanao added.
Also, because of the tramline system, production area expanded from 40 hectares to 45 hectares as farming became easier.
Another beneficiary is Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. Gateway to Cagayan Valley, the mountainous Sta. Fe is not only fit for nature tripping but for livelihood as well. Around 320 hectares are planted to vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, beans, ginger, eggplant among others.
However, farmers were hesitant to use the tramline at first since they were used to manual hauling, said Larry Yubos, the tramline operator. “They did not want to try it until they saw its benefits.”
Now that the tramline has been operating for two months, farmers are satisfied with it as it lessens labor. In fact, says Yubos, hauling cost is reduced to more than 50 percent.
For now, the tramline system is managed by the local government of Sta. Fe, but it will be turned over to the Balete Upland Farmers’ Cooperative.
By Karen Mei R. Cariaga