The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) has so far distributed 512 pieces of farm machines in six regions that form part of the P2-billion worth of machines that were successfully bidded out and purchased by the agency early this year.

The agency is currently bidding out the next batch of farm machines worth at least P5 billion, of which P3 billion forms part of the machines that was supposed to be acquired in 2019.

Before the end of the year, PHilMech will bid out another P3 billion to complete the P5 billion worth of machines to be distributed this year under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Mechanization Component.

PHilMech Executive Director Baldwin Jallorina said the agency is stepping up the distribution of farm machines under the RCEF Mechanization Component despite the lockdowns and quarantines imposed to varying degrees in many parts of the Philippines to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has also affected businesses related to agriculture and the rural economy in general.

“Admittedly, the varying degrees of lockdowns and quarantines that the government imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus also affected the movement of our field personnel and operations of our headquarters in Munoz, Nueva Ecija. But we at PHilMech still managed to proceed with the distribution of farm machines and continue the validation of qualified farmers cooperatives and associations (FCAs) as beneficiaries of the program,” he said.

“We are also exercising transparency in the bidding process as the proceedings are aired live over the official PHilMech Facebook page, from the pre-bidding process to the actual opening of bids,” Jallorina added.

As for the ongoing distribution of farm machines under the RCEF Mechanization Component, the PHilMech Director said a total of 512 have been distributed as of end-July in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region (Region 1), Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Central Luzon (Region 3), Calabarzon (Region 4A), Bicol Region (Region 5) and Central Visayas (Region 7).

The type of farm machines distributed so far are: Four-wheel tractors, 106; Hand tractors, 77; Floating Tillers, 25; Precision seeder, 21; Walk behind transplanter, 39; Reaper, 34; and Combine harvester, 176.

Jallorina said distribution of more farm machines are scheduled this month in Caraga (Region 13), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9) and Northern Mindanao (Region 10).

For September, PHilMech has scheduled distribution of farm machines in Mimaropa (Region 4B), Davao Region (Region 11), Soccsksargen (Region 12), Western Visayas (Region 6), and Central Visayas (Region 7).

Jallorina said the distribution of farm machines amid the coronavirus pandemic will be a big boost to the rural economy as this would help increase food production and incomes of farmers.

Also, farm machines need scheduled maintenance that would require skilled labor and workers.

“PHilMech continues to make adjustments on how to conduct the bidding, purchasing and distribution of farm machines amid the lockdowns and quarantines caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as we at the agency realize how pivotal the RCEF Mechanization Component is in helping the rural economy recover amid the health crisis,” he said.

Article by PHilMech communications group