Ir. Mimin Muhaemin, M.Eng., Ph.D.: Instead of Importing, We Should Produce Our Own Farming Machineries

[Unpad.ac.id, 6/04/2016] Domestic agricultural machinery of domestic production remained undeveloped. In agricultural techniques, Indonesia still leans toward being a “user” of agricultural machinery, instead of a “maker”.

Ir. Mimin Muhaemin, M.Eng., Ph.D. (Foto oleh: Tedi Yusup)*
Ir. Mimin Muhaemin, M.Eng., Ph.D. (Photo by Tedi Yusup)*

“Products made in Indonesia do exist and were used, but they are limited to a relatively small and simple ones. The advanced products are almost all imported products. This applies, for example, on hand tractors to plow fields. Local product is less sophisticated and in general less convenient to use, “said Lecturer of Faculty of Agricultural Industrial Technology (FTIP) Unpad, Ir. Mimin Muhaemin, M.Eng., Ph.D.

He believed the problem did not lie in inabitlity to create or innovate but in lack of support from the government and society for domestic production.

It was easier to buy imported tractors, harvesters, or other farm machinery nowadays than to produce or develop our own. The other reason was the better appreciation for overseas production, and our lack of “manufacture” culture.

Yet for optimal agricultural production, agricultural tools or machines should also be customized to our agriculture condition, to the needs of Indonesia.

“The hope is to manufacture the machine ourselves since the imported was not customized for our needs,” said Mimin. The incompatibility could be caused by climate differences, user’s body size, type of crops grown, or the condition of the land.

“If it was programmed from the beginning to build a customized machineries for our land, we could make it happen,” said the man who once served as Dean of FTIP Unpad.

Mimin said that although there were active government programs in terms of increased production of agricultural machinery in Indonesia, its implementation was still lacking. Program priorities often were not sustainable due to the change of policy makers.

According to the man who was born in Ciamis, July 21, 1962, great results could be achieved with extensive program involving solid team since developing any agricultural machinery needed a long period of time.

“If development of sophisticated agricultural equipment in Indonesia is set, say for maybe 10 years, within the existing research center, I believe production is possible,” said Mimin.

Sasak Apung
Sasak Apung Padjadjaran in Suntenjaya Village, Lembang

In addition, subsidies for small farmers are still fairly little and unable to optimize agricultural machinery in order to simplify or streamline their performance. This then caused agricultural products price to be low and brought very little income for small farmers. As a result, purchasing power of farmers was also small. To purchase a tractor, for example, was very difficult for them.

Government and private sector were not willing to spend large sum of money for research. Meanwhile research in farming tool manufacture required a considerable cost, up to hundreds of millions of Rupiah. This also caused research results related to agricultural machinery was priced quite low.

Mimin admitted that there were many products related research farm machinery both from research institutes and universities nowadays, but it did not succeed in the market because of they were not supported by purchasing power of farmers or agricultural private companies. Even if there were companies with a high purchasing power, they preferred to buy imported products rather than domestic products or investing in research.

“Our culture has been stressing on the pride of buying instead of pride of producing. Unlike in Japan where at very young age people were already instilled with the belief that they needed to produce their own product in order to survive. We Indonesians are different. I remembered that the sentences we learned when we were learning to read were ‘Mom bought …’ or ‘Badu buys a book’, “said this graduate of Institute of Agricultural and Forest Engineering, University of Tsukuba Japan.

Thus, Mimin is hoping that increasing levels of public education would gradually bring changes in attitude in that respect.

Until today, out of various research activities and community service performed, Mimin has produced many agricultural machines. One of them was Sasak Apung Padjadjaran that won the 2014 West Java Innovation and Initiative Award for category innovation of “Infrastructure” theme.

Sasak Apung Padjadjaran is a mean of production and transportation of agricultural products in form of smart cable car. It was one of the community service activities from Mimin’s FTIP Unpad team. The tool was installed in the Gandok, Suntenjaya village, Lembang since April 2014. This tool was to facilitate farmers with transportation means for their agricultural production since they usually travel 300 in uphill road conditions to bring their crop.

Mimin, the Head of Laboratory Equipment and Agricultural Machinery FTIP Unpad, revealed that many people did not expect a team of agricultural engineering science could make such equipment. In fact, Mimin and the team did not only assemble, but also devise a mechanism, calculate the strength of each component, conduct the manufacture, and test its strength.

Mimin said that many has doubted the ability of a skilled agricultural techniques in making machines. He even mentioned that an engineering background agricultural (not engineering) had its own advantage, as he would be mastering the properties of plants and land, and well informed about technique of making machines.

Besides Sasak Apung Padjadjaran, other machine that was manufactured in collaboration with a team of lecturers and technicians in Laboratory Equipment and Agricultural Machinery, was a tomato grading machine, pineapple pealer, automatic feathers plucker, chicken clamp machine, electric garbage car, and many more.*

Reported by Artanti Hendriyana / eh

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