The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) is ready to distribute the first batch of farm machines under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) as it successfully conducted the bidding for such.

PHilMech Executive Director Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina Jr. said the first batch of farm machines to be distributed under the RCEF is worth approximately P2 billion, which is part of the first P5 billion allocated under the fund for mechanization of rice farms.
Under Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, P10 billion will be allocated every year for the next six years from 2019 for RCEF and will be allocated as follows: P5 billion for farm mechanization; P3 billion for high-yielding seeds; P1 billion for credit support; and P1 billion for training programs.

“The P2-billion worth of farm equipment bidded out and awarded forms the first batch to be awarded to qualified farmer cooperatives and associations (FCAs) under the mechanization component of RCEF. The next batch of farm equipment to be bidded out will amount to P3 billion. PHilMech conducted an exhaustive evaluation of qualified FCAs before the bidding was conducted starting late last year,” he added.

Except for the four-wheel tractors, rice planter/seeders and rice combine harvesters, the rest of the equipment bidded out were locally-fabricated.

However, PHilMech made sure that the four-wheel tractors and rice combine harvesters would be sourced from respectable and established global brands. “This is also to make sure that the funds allocated for the mechanization component of RCEF will be well-invested in quality equipment,” Jallorina said.

A total of 495 four-wheel tractors, 356 rice combine harvesters and 576 hand tractors are set for distribution to qualified FCAs. Also set for distribution are: 103 rice reapers; 52 precision seeders; 106 walk behind transplanters; 118 riding type transplanters; 347 floating tillers; and 46 rice mills

The next batch of equipment may include mechanical dryers and other types of farm equipment needed in the rice value chain.

PHilMech estimates that farm mechanization can lower the cost of cultivating palay (unmilled rice) by P1 to P2 per kilo. At present, the cost of producing a kilo of palay in the Philippines is P12.72 per kilo while it is P6.62 in Vietnam and P8.86 in Thailand.

Besides evaluating the FCAs, PHilMech also conducted training for trainors who would impart knowledge on the importance of farm mechanization and maintenance procedures for agricultural equipment to the farmers and cooperatives/associations qualified to be beneficiaries under RCEF’s components.