Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has officially signed the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10601, or the Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Act (AFMech).
AFMech tasks the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) to take the lead in overall research, development and extension (RDE) in farm and fisheries mechanization in the country.
PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said that the IRR paves the way for the creation of the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) that will formulate the five- year National Agri-Fishery Mechanization Program (NAFMP) through consultations with the concerned agencies and the private sector.
“The BAFE will have one year from the approval of the IRR of AFMech to formulate the five-year NAFMP, and the next five-year program,” Bingabing said, noting that the new agency will be attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The NAFMP shall serve as the overall agriculture and fishery modernization program to guide in the planning, programming, budgeting and monitoring of the DA.
The five-year plan will also provide the direction for the formulation of the unified National Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Research and Development and Extension (NAFMechRDE) agenda that will “address, among others, the priority areas of concerns and commodities of the DA and the major mechanization needs of these commodities,” based on Rule 7.2 of the IRR.
“Besides increasing the mechanization level of the farm and fishery sector in the Philippines, the IRR of AFMech also takes into account developing the country’s agriculture sector in a sustainable way and helping it cope with the challenges of climate change,” Bingabing said.
The formulation and implementation of the NAFMechRDE will be undertaken by the AFMech Research, Development and Extension Network (AFMechRDEN), which will be led by PhilMech.
The network will be composed of research and development agencies, local government units, nongovernment organizations, and recognized and well-established associations of agricultural and fisheries machinery assemblers, manufacturers and distributors, agricultural engineers, farmers and fisher folk.
Among the institutions that will form part of the AFMechRDEN are the Agricultural Mechanization Development Program of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, DA agencies involved in farm and fisheries mechanization efforts, and institutions of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
The IRR also tasks PhilMech and DOST to take the lead in the undertaking of a feasibility study for the local assembly and manufacture of agricultural engines/prime movers, and other agricultural machinery and equipment.
“The IRR will help develop a new industry, which is the manufacture of farm machineries that will help generate employment. The guidelines also stipulates the compliance of manufacturers with the standards that will developed for farm and fishery machineries,” Bingabing said.
Bingabing said that he is optimistic that over the medium to long term, the network and system that AFMech will put into place will help the country increase its mechanization levels.