THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) is gradually pushing for the development of the country’s farm machine industry amid the country’s agriculture sector accelerating its adoption of mechanization through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Mechanization Program.

PHilMech Executive Director Dr. Dionisio Alvindia said the country cannot rely solely on imported farm machines, and there is a need to develop the local farm machine industry to improve their manufacturing capabilities and quality of their products.

PHilMech has already taken a major step to develop the local farm machine industry with the start of the establishment of the Agricultural Mechanization Design and Prototyping Center (AMDPC) at the agency’s headquarters in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija in collaboration with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica-Philippines), Korea Institute for Development Strategy and the Korea Agricultural Machinery Cooperative (Kamico).

The groundbreaking ceremony for the establishment of the AMDPC took place last May 25, 2022 during the commencement of the 44th anniversary celebration of PHilMech.

The AMDPC is the major step in developing the country’s farm machine industry, and Kamico is a perfect partner as they already possess the expertise in the field,” he added.

We should not rely solely with importation of machines and equipment and we should empower our local manufacturing industry as mandated in the AFMech Law. Establishing shops for repair and maintenance should be part of the program to cater for the repair of machines distributed under the RCEF-Mechanization Program,” he said, referring to the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law.

The project will include the fabrication of farm machinery parts in partnership with local farm machine manufacturers.

Hence, PHilMech, in collaboration with Kamico, will soon start a project on fabrication of machinery parts in partnership with our local fabricators as this will upgrade our capabilities in local manufacturing that would create jobs in the countryside,” Alvindia said.

The project to establish the AMDPC and the dispatch of South Korean experts, and capacity-building efforts for the PHilMech will have a total cost of $5.7 million. The establishment of the AMDPC was pegged at $3.6 million and will house a state-of-the-art design and prototyping equipment and tools to develop farm machine parts and components.

PHilMech has so far licensed following local companies to manufacture the machines and technologies the agency has designed and/or developed: ACT (Machineries and Metalcraft) Corp.; Agricomp Machineries and Construction Corp.; ARFAST Inc.; Diordan Construction; REB-Greentech Systems Enterprises; and Machinesystems Corp.

Among the farm machines PHilMech has licensed for local manufacture are compact corn mill; hygienic fermentary box; impeller mill for brown rice; impeller rice mill combo; and 12-row onion mechanical seeder.

The agency is also in the final stages of developing its fluidized bed dryer primarily for drying palay (unmilled rice).

Alvindia explained that AFMech has provisions stating that the government take the lead in developing a local farm machine industry capable of supplying quality equipment for the country’s farmers and fisherfolk.

He specifically cited Section 2 of the law that states that the government shall “Promote the development and adoption of modern, appropriate and cost-effective and environmentally-safe agricultural and fisheries machinery and equipment to enhance farm productivity and efficiency in order to achieve food security and safety and increase farmers’ income.”

Furthermore, Section 2 states that the government “Provide a conducive environment to the local assembling and manufacturing of engines, machinery and equipment for agricultural and fisheries production, processing and marketing.” (Eireene Jairee Gomez, The Manila Times)