Fifty nine farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in Nueva Ecija were awarded farm machinery as part of the Mechanization Component of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PHilMech).
DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban and DA-PHilMech Executive Director Dionisio Alvindia, together with representatives from the office of Senator Cynthia Villar and local government officials, led the awarding ceremony of the P107.747-million worth of equipment and expressed their commitment to improving the local agriculture sector.
The machines distributed on January 26, 2023 are needed for crop establishment, harvesting, and palay drying. These are composed of 15 hand tractors, 27 walk-behind transplanters, two riding type transplanters, two precision seeders, three rice reapers, 25 rice combine harvesters, and 14 recirculating dryers.
According to Director Alvindia, the DA-PHilMech will sustain the distribution of farm equipment to qualified FCAs through the RCEF Mechanization Program until 2024 and provide the necessary training and capacity building for the farmer-beneficiaries.
“We have two more years to go for the RCEF-Mechanization Program and I am optimistic that PHilMech will be able to sustain the delivery of the farm equipment and capacity-building measures to the qualified beneficiaries,” he said.
Alvindia added that they are encouraging the beneficiaries to allocate a portion of their income for the repair and maintenance of the awarded machinery. The DA-PHilMech is also facilitating to localize the manufacturing of the spare parts for replacement and empowering local manufacturers to assist the farmers with the maintenance.
Since the RCEF started in 2019, the DA-PHilMech already delivered 744 units of various agricultural machinery and postharvest facilities worth P952.5 million, benefiting 468 FCAs and local government units (LGU) in the Province of Nueva Ecija.
For the 2023 fund, the identification and field validation of potential beneficiaries already started in the last quarter of 2022.
The RCEF, which was created through the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, aims to improve the rice farmers’ competitiveness and income amid the liberalization of the Philippine rice trade policy. For six years, P5 billion or 50 percent of the Rice Fund is allocated to the RCEF-Mechanization Program to be implemented by DA-PHilMech and released as grant to qualified FCAs, registered rice cooperatives, and LGUs. ### (Gumamela Celes Bejarin, DA-AFID)