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Making a Flatbed Dryer Work in Rural Communities in the Philippines - SEARCA Agriculture and Development Notes 13-1

In the Philippines, various research and training institutions are mandated to create agricultural technologies to help Filipino farmers attain better yields. For instance, the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), and the provincial government of Nueva Ecija built 10 grain-drying facilities at a total cost of over PHP 100 million (around PHP 10 million each) in the municipalities of Llanera, Sto. Domingo, Zaragoza, Quezon, Licab, Aliaga, Peñaranda, San Leonardo, Cabiao, and Jaen. Flatbed dryers help farmers dry their palay, especially during the rainy season, to prevent losses. Unfortunately, the Philippine Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the provincial government of Nueva Ecija for this over PHP 100 million worth of grain drying facilities in the province. COA's technical audit showed that the facilities were not operated long enough to recover the acquisition and operation costs because of several issues. Sixteen years after they were built, only three of the 10 flatbed dryers are operational.

However, the case is different among rice farmers in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. They have managed to properly appropriate the flatbed dryers to work to their advantage. What is technology appropriation? Technology appropriation is "an active and creative process that ends in various usage and meaning patterns on both individual and social levels" (Wirth et al. 2006). It describes a process in which technology is used for specific purposes and with particular intentions. According to Lund (2014), "appropriation is not just internalizing a technology but also involves being able to use such technology in human interaction." Oftentimes, "these processes are never smooth, but full of tensions, friction, and resistance." Also, they are "closely intertwined with the social and cultural heritage in the settings they are a part of, e.g., classrooms".


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