DA, FAO partner to boost mechanization

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have partnered to improve mechanization in rice and corn farming in the country.

The DA-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) said that the project aims to transform how the country approaches mechanization, especially in agriculture.

DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico emphasized the timeliness of the partnership, adding that it aligns with the thrust of the department to boost food production and modernize agriculture through mechanization.

“To achieve this, an accurate inventory of farm machinery is imperative,” said Rico.

The project also seeks to increase the country’s level of mechanization (LOM) by 10 percent by 2025.

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Moreover, the project’s work plan outlines the impact, outcomes, and target for increased mechanization in rice and corn production.

“The project intends to improve mechanization efficiency, based on a harmonized mechanization index (MI), ultimately contributing to increased food production,” said Kelvin Michael Crystal, project coordinator of FAO in the Philippines.

In order to have a systematic distribution of farm machines across the country, DA-BAFE added that all local government units are now required to craft their Local Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Plans (LAMPs) for rice and corn.

This move toward mechanization is further supported by the National Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Plan (NAFMP) 2023-2028, which has been adopted by the DA.

BAFE Programs and Projects Management Division chief Cristy Cecilia Polido, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of LOM as an indicator recognized by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

She emphasized the need for a precise measure of mechanization in the country, as the Philippines currently lags in mechanization compared to other Asian countries.

The mechanization level of rice farms in the Philippines went up to 2.679 horsepower per hectare (hp/ha) as of the end of 2022, a marked increase from the 2.31 hp/ha recorded in 2013, the latest report from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) showed.

DA-BAFE and FAO will also collaborate with PhilMech, Philippine Rice Research Institute, and University of the Philippines Los Baños, which have existing protocols on farm mechanization.

“The challenge lies in harmonizing these protocols into a single LOM measure. Once FAO has developed a protocol, it will integrate into the existing management information system,” DA-BAFE said.

The bureau also spearheaded the Inception Workshop on the BAFE-FAO Project on increasing the level of mechanization efficiency of rice and corn production that gathered representatives from different regions and agencies under the DA.