June 17, 2019
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) said it was optimistic about releasing the guidelines for the farm mechanization component under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) this month.
PHilMech Executive Director Dr. Baldwin Jallorina said the agency was now finalizing the guidelines that would include the identification of 1,200 municipalities that would facilitate the deployment of farm equipment and machines under RCEP over a period of six years or from this year up to 2024.
Before the actual deployment and distribution of farm machines in the 1,200 municipalities start, PHilMech would conduct “mind-setting” activities like information drive and technical briefings to prepare Filipino rice farmers to adapt to mechanization, Jallorina said.
Dr. Rod Estigoy, PhilMech Applied Communications Department director, earlier said the 1,200 municipalities are located in the country’s 16 regions that host farming activities such as Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Mindanao.
Estigoy said PhilMech is yet to conduct a meeting of the program steering committee on June 18. “Afterwards, [the guidelines] will be firmed up based on the suggestions of program steering committee to the department.” The guidelines are targeted to be finalized within this month as PhilMech expects its fund to be released by end of June, he added.
Estigoy explained that beneficiaries of the rice mechanization program will be farmer organizations or registered irrigators associations and farmers cooperatives of rice. The machineries will be rented by the groups “because the government isn’t capable of giving away machineries to individuals as it will need very huge funds,” according to the terms of the program.
Meanwhile, Jallorina said a “one-size-fits-all” approach would not be used by PHilMech in increasing the farm mechanization level of the 1,200 municipalities. He said there are municipalities that already have a certain degree of farm mechanization while there are those that still rely largely on human or animal power in the various phases of rice production.
Among the machineries to be simultaneously distributed to the beneficiaries include hand tractors and four-wheel tractors for land preparation, transplanters for crops establishment, and combined harvesters for harvesting and threshing, as well as mechanical dryers.
Currently, the Philippines’ mechanization level is at 2.31 horsepower per hectare, significantly lower than that of rice-producing countries like Thailand and Vietnam which are highly subsidized by their governments.
Of the P10 billion for RCEP, P5 billion will be allocated for mechanization of rice farms, P3 billion for provision of high-yielding in bred rice seeds, P1 billion for credit support, and P1 billion for extension support and education of rice farmers.
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