Afmech to spur dev’t of farm machines
(The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech), the  research arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), believes the recently-signed Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization law (Afmech) will give rise to a sustainable farm machinery manufacturing industry.

The Afmech law, signed by President Aquino on June 17, aims to improve farm mechanization to support the country’s food sufficiency goals.

Among the salient points of the law is the implementation of a five-year National Agri-fishery Mechanization Program which includes the development of a farm machinery manufacturing industry.

The law mandates Philmech to unify all existing researches in agriculture and fisheries machinery in the country to set technical standards that will help prospective manufacturers provide the appropriate products to farmers.

This will also enable the government to provide the necessary trainings for farmers who would be using the machines.

The law also mandates the institution of  stricter quality standards and registration system for machineries sold in the country.

A Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering would also be created to prepare, evaluate and recommend engineering plans for farm and fishery machinery.

Philmech executive director Rex Bingabing said the Philippines still imports most of its farm machinery needs especially heavy equipment. 

“The Philippines still does not have the capability to manufacture most machineries but we can start by assembling imported parts,” he said.

“Local firms can also supply the spare parts and provide after sales service,” he said.

Before, it was deemed more expensive to manufacture our own equipment  because of limited demand.

“But  now thousands of combined harvesters are operating in the country compared to only a handful several years ago,” said Bingabing. 

Bingabing said that based on consultations with  the Agriculture Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association, members said sales have been increasing over the years.

“Some of their member countries have expressed interest to invest,” he said.

He said efforts are now underway to facilitate the so-called clustering of small farms owned by beneficiaries of agrarian reform for effective use of farm machinery.

Most agrarian reform beneficiaries till only three hectares which are too small for effective mechanization.

“These farms can be clustered and machines can be procured  by cooperatives rather than individual farmers,” he said.

The DA currently implements a cost-sharing scheme with cooperatives wherein the government shoulders 85 percent of the cost of farm equipment and the qualified farmer organization shoulders the remaining 15 percent.

The Agri-Agra law also mandates that a portion of banks’ loan portfolio be reserved for credit extension to beneficiaries of agrarian reform.

 

A BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL AND FISHERIES ENGINEERING AFMECH AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES MECHANIZATION AGRICULTURE MACHINERY MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS ASSOCIATION BINGABING DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FARM MACHINERY PHILMECH
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