• DA pushes machinery use across Mindanao

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    AS part of efforts to enhance and fast-track the adoption of farm mechanization in the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) convened stakeholders across Mindanao for a consultation and drafting of a Regional Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Plan (RAFMechP).

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    The stakeholders are composed of implementers, members of the academe, farmers’ organizations, and local manufacturers tapped to provide recommendations, suggestions and concerns regarding agricultural mechanization.

    RAFMechP is under the National Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Program (NAFMP) associated with Republic Act 10601 or the Agricultural and Fishery Mechanization (AFMech) Law.

    Five components of the NAFMP were considered in the drafting and review of the RAFMP per region, which include support services; provision of quality and safe machines; local manufacturing to lower the cost of agri-machinery; research, development and extension; and human resource development.

    The NAFMP is an ongoing project covering fiscal years 2016-2022. The proposed national budget for 2017 is P8 billion, which is expected to increase after the NAFMP is fully implemented.

    Based on 2011 data from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), the Philippines ranked as one of the Asian countries with a low level of farm mechanization, or the use of machines necessary for the production, harvest, handling, and processing of agri-fisheries products.

    The Philippines is an agricultural country with 32 percent or 9.7 million hectares of land devoted to farming.

    “Presently, we’re trying to have a comprehensive approach to cover every aspect of the implementation of farm mechanization,” PHilMech executive director Rex Bingabing said.

    “One issue that needs to be addressed is social preparation, because there is a low acceptance of farm mechanization among the farmers and fisherfolk. Hopefully the five components can address the issues about farm mechanization,” Bingabing added.

    Remelyn Recote, DA regional director, said that the crafting of plans, which will be presented to the new administration next year, is a significant step to enhance farm productivity in the agriculture areas, which should further create jobs and improve farm productivity.

    She added that farm mechanization will enable farmers to overcome the challenges presented by the Asean economic integration and that if the country wants to be competitive within the Asean, Philippine agriculture must fully implement farm mechanization.

     JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ

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