PhilMech seeks enhancing PHL agricultural mechanization

MANILA-- Government aims securing more partnerships on improving agricultural mechanization (agmech) nationwide.

"We're open to partnering with local and foreign entities that can help us achieve such goal for boosting local agricultural production," said Executive Director Dr. Dionisio Alvindia of Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the agency tasked with extending and commercializing appropriate and problem-oriented agriculture and fishery post-harvest and mechanization technologies.

At a briefing Wednesday, he said such partnerships can help PhilMech better develop capability for locally manufacturing agmech components.

The target partnerships can also help PhilMech increase the estimated 30 percent utilization rate of tractors in the country at present, he continued.

"Our mechanization level rose two- or three-fold as we imported many tractors but these farm vehicles aren't being fully utilized," he noted.

Aside from being under-powered, he said the tractors aren't equipped with attachments needed for these farm vehicles to undertake various work from land preparation to transplanting.

"Level of Philippine agmech in 2011 was about 1.23 horsepower/hectare (hp/ha) only," he said.

He noted such level is lower than Vietnam's 1.56 hp/ha, Republic of Korea's 9.38 hp/ha and Japan's 19.97 hp/ha during the same year.

Dr. Alvindia said Philippine agmech must improve since farmers nationwide are aging -- averaging around 57 years old.

Younger people are increasingly becoming disinterested in farming due to the hard work this requires, however, he noted.

The country's population is increasing so there must be more food production to meet demand, he continued.

"We must relieve farmers of farming's drudgery -- with agmech, we can make agriculture easier," he said.

PhilMech already partnered with Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (Kamico) on improving Philippine agmech.

Kamico will provide agricultural engineers and other parties concerned agmech technologies and training, said Dr. Alvindia.

He noted Kamico's assistance will enable the trainees to undertake agmech in the country and locally manufacture agmech-related components.

Aside from such technology transfer and training, he said PhilMech also received a proposal covering donation of two to three tractors for engineers to train on.

PhilMech also already commenced agmech discussions with a European company, he said.

Other entities can present to PhilMech respective partnership proposals for improving agmech nationwide, he said further.

"We need not re-invent the wheel but instead promote and expand collaboration on agmech," he noted.

Earlier, PhilMech set establishing a facility where experts can test prototype processes for farm machinery manufacturing.

If the testing proves successful, PhilMech assured readiness to offer such processes to the public for implementation.

RA 10601 (Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Law) promotes development of the country's local farm machinery manufacturing industry.

Source: Philippines News Agency