The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) has taken a major role in modernizing the country’s agriculture sector through the Mechanization Component of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
And even with the varying degrees of lockdowns and quarantines nationwide caused b the coronavirus, PHilMech Executive Director Baldwin Jallorina said the agency has been able to conduct the bidding and acquisition of various farm machines for the RCEF Mechanization Component, and distribute the acquired machines to qualified farmers cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in various parts of the country.
“The coronavirus pandemic has not slowed down significantly the drive of PHilMech to distribute the farm machines that should be distributed to qualified FCAs under the RCEF Mechanization Component,” he said.
“So far, PHilMech as of August 6 has distributed 571 units 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 and covers 2019,” Jallorina added.
The PHilMech director said that with the ramping up of the distribution of farm machines nationwide, the agency has taken up a bigger role in modernizing and industrializing the country’s rice industry and agriculture sector in general.
“Under Republic Act (RA) 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, PHilMech is mandated to distribute P5 billion worth of farm machines every year to qualified FCAs for the next six years, which is not an easy task. But despite the current coronavirus pandemic, the agency is on track in distributing at total of P10 billion worth of farm machines this year,” he said, referring to the P5 billion budget for 2019 and 5 billion budget for 2020.
The agency is currently bidding out P5.5 billion worth of farm machines of which P3 billion covers 2019 and P2.5 billion for 2020. Before the end of this year, PHilMech intends to bid out another P2.5 billion to complete the P5-billion target for 2020.
For 2021, Jallorina said he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will be gone or minimized, which will enable the agency to further speed up the distribution of farm machines to more qualified FCAs.
“And hopefully by next year, the coronavirus pandemic would either be gone or minimized, which will make it easier for PHilMech to expedite the delivery to farm machines to more qualified FCAs who in turn can play a bigger role in boosting both the rural and national economy,” he said.
“PHilMech is now very much aware of its bigger role in modernizing and industrializing the country’s rice industry and agriculture sector as set forth in RA 11203, of which Sen. Cynthia Villar is one of the main proponents,” Jallorina added.
Based on studies by the government, the cost of producing palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines is P12.72 per kilo while it is P6.22 per kilo in Vietnam and P8.86 per kilo in Thailand.
The distribution of various farm machines as mandated by RA 11203 for six years up to 2024 will help lower the cost of producing palay by P2 to 3 per kilo, based on earlier estimates by PHilMech.
“Indeed, PHilMech is leading rice farmers into a new era as the agency takes a bigger role in also making the Philippine rice industry competitive with its Southeast Asian counterparts,” Jallorina said.