Manila, (PNA) — The government is willing to provide aid through tax incentives and loan packages for local and foreign investors willing to provide spare parts and engines of farm machineries as their contribution to the agricultural and fisheries modernization in the country, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech). Executive Director Rex Bingabing, in a press conference at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Conference Room at Quezon City Friday, said the local farm machine industry must aspire to manufacture small engines, or those that have an output of 10 horsepower and below. While there are farm machineries that are assembled in the Philippines, pieces like engines and transmissions are usually imported.
“While the Philippines do not have the capability to manufacture small engines, it can start by assigning these parts from abroad,” he said. “Local firms can also supply spare parts of farm equipments and provide after-sales services such as maintenance and repair of these equipments,” the Philmech head also said.
“We can first assemble small engines and eventually aspire to fabricate the pieces that make up a small engine. Then we can also manufacture spare parts of farm machineries that are used locally,” he added.
Republic Act 1061 or the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III last June 2013, mandates the PhilMech to take the primary role in overall research, development and extension (RDE) in farm and fisheries mechanization in the country.
“The primary objective of the law is to put into place a five year National Agrifishery Modernization Program that shall be coordinated by the DA. The program will encourage the local manufacturing of farm machineries,
Specifically, Section 7 under Article III of the law states “That the DA, through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) as focal agency, shall integrate and unify all agricultural and fisheries mechanization RDE programs and projects of all concerned national government agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), which shall be geared towards development of machineries and equipment, job generation, address market and industry demands and help accelerate agricultural and fisheries modernization in the countryside”.
“This means that all RDE activities related to farm and fisheries mechanization will have to be unified or have one direction. At present, research activities on farm mechanization is not coordinated and many institutions including state colleges and universities have their own research on agriculture mechanization.”
Thus, the statute also stipulates the organization of an Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization RDE Network that will be responsible for the formulation and implementation of the National Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization RDE Agenda. PhilMech will organize and chair the network that will be composed of research and educational institutions, LGUs, NGOs, recognized and well-established associations of agricultural and fisheries machinery assemblers, manufacturers and distributors, agricultural engineers, farmers and fisherfolk.
Also, a Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) shall be created as a regular agency of the DA that will be in charge of coordinating, overseeing and monitoring the planning and implementation of agri-fisheries engineering, farm-to-market road and other agri-fisheries infrastructure projects. BAFE also assists in the national planning, coordination and implementation of the national agri-fisheries mechanization programs; prepare, evaluate, validate and recommend engineering plans, designs and technical specifications on agri-fisheries mechanization and infrastructure projects; coordinate and monitor the enforcement of standards and other regulatory policies on agricultural and fishery engineering, among others.
Implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10601 is expected to be finished in six months.
“We are currently in the last stages of drafting the IRR. We are aiming to have it approved by December”, Dir. Bingabing reported.