MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) upheld the vision of the food self-sufficiency program of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. over the medium to long term.

"The pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war revealed to us the vulnerability of the global food system, which was highly dependent on trading and imported chemical inputs to ensure that a country's population will have enough food supply," PhilMech Executive Director Dr. Dionisio Alvindia said in a statement delivered during a media briefing on Monday, July 25.

Alvindia, a scientist, said PhilMech will level up the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Mechanization Program by providing more qualified farmers' cooperatives and associations (FCAs) or local government units (LGUs) with drying and milling facilities that will allow them to have a complete value chain, from planting to selling milled rice.

PhilMech said the very first Rice Processing Center (RPC) worth P60 million was awarded to the LGU of Maramag in Bukidnon province, composed of one unit of multi-stage rice mill and two units of recirculating dryers.

Alvindia also announced the distribution of rice processing and drying equipment to more qualified FCAs and LGUs, and the acquisition of the processing and drying facilities which will be included in the P5-billion allocation under RCEF for 2022.

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He said PhilMech will also continue distributing farm machines from crop establishment to harvesting under Republic Act 11203 or the "Rice Tariffication Law."

P5-B allocation for farm machines

In June 2022, PhilMech-Bids and Award Committee already started the procurement process for the batch of farm machines covered by the P5-billion allocation for 2022.

"We are also targeting to deliver all the to-be procured production technologies this year but the machines for the establishment of postharvest facilities, particularly milling and drying facilities, may spill over the first quarter of 2023 since these technologies require constructions and various testing to ensure that these will be functional/operational," Alvindia said.

He said PhilMech has already delivered over 20,000 various units of farm machines worth P15 billion covering the funding allocation from 2019 to 2021 and that PhilMech continues to capacitate the beneficiaries of the RCEF-Mechanization program by providing them training in the operation and maintenance of farm machines, and operating a cooperative like a business enterprise.

PhilMech said other initiatives are being undertaken to modernize the country's agriculture sector which will significantly contribute to the vision of President Marcos to make the Philippines sufficient in food production over the medium to long term.

"Overall, we at PhilMech re-commit to sustain our programs, projects and initiatives to modernize the country's agriculture sector because we believe that technological solutions are key to making farmers attain higher productivity and better harvests and incomes," Alvindia said.