CAMALIG, ALBAY – As the Department of Agriculture revs up to modernize the agriculture sector, DA – Bicol in partnership with Korean farm machinery manufacturers recently staged an agricultural mechanization Roadshow for modern farming Techniques and technologies at the Albay Farmers Bounty Village here. The two-day event which was dubbed :”Gear Up Bicol 2019” showcased latest machineries and technologies developed by Korean manufacturers. Over 600 Bicolano farmers, association farmers leaders and even students attended said event which also featured seminars and actual field demonstrations.

According to Rodel P. Tornilla, DA Bicol OIC -Regional Executive Director “farm mechanization must be widely accepted and adopted by our farmers as this is one strategy that could help increase their production and income, lower the cost of production and address the problem on labor shortage especially during peak farming operations. Thus, we brought this roadshow here so that our farmers can see for themselves the benefits and advantages of mechanization. From among the machineries showcased and demonstrated the farmers can choose which is appropriate, responsive and adapted to their needs and environment. These will then be the basis of the DA in procuring the machines which will be made available to farmers as stipulated under the Rice Tarrification Law”.

The Tarrification Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203, establishes the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) which stipulates for the allocation of P10billion per year in the next 6 years up to 2024 to increase their productivity and make them more competitive. Of the 10 billion, P5 billion would go to farm mechanization, P3billion will be invested for the provision of quality seeds, P1billion for credit support and P1 billion for training of rice farmers.

Meanwhile, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) Director Arnel Ramir A. Apaga underscored the importance of the support of all sectors especially the LGUs in promoting farm mechanization. He enjoined the farmers to propose to the DA what machineries they need. But more than that they should learn how and when to use these machinery effectively and efficiently and optimally.

Dr. Valentino C. Perdido, Project Development Officer and consultant at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Operations explains that in 2018, the Philippines through Department of Agriculture has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Korea through the Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO) for a collaboration on agricultural machinery research and development, establishment of an agricultural machinery manufacturing cluster and establishment of a demonstration complex on agricultural mechanization and enhancement of workforce skills through trainings.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said that mechanization could address the farmers problem on very costly and diminishing farm labor. He also pointed out the advantage of channeling the farm machineries through cooperatives which can efficiently manage them and generate income for their coops and members from these machineries.

KAMICO director Kim Kyong Soo graced the event and reaffirms their coop’s commitment to their partnership with the Philippines: “There is enough room, for us to work together. We should unite and join our efforts and resources for development”, he emphasized.

The other Korean companies who participated in roadshow were: Fit Corea Trading Philippines headed by its president, Philip Kim; Leehwa Industry headed by its president Sekjin Lee and managing Director Jonseung Cho; ASIATECH headed by its president Wonki Chun; and Joongang Precision headed by its executive manager , Kyonsoo Park.

The machineries showcased and demonstrated include the following: 40HP tractor with Levee & loader ; 55 HP tractor with plow; 40HP tractor with Rotavator & Leveler; Seeder; Handy cultivator set with former and mulcher; boom sprayer, drone (for spraying pesticides and fertilizers); rice polishing machine; corn mill, agricultural product dryer; vibration separator. Agricultural product washer; levee production machine; 5 in 1 rice milling & polishing machine; underground crop harvester (for garlic and onion) paddy seeder, disc plow , Branson Tractors; lifters and many more.

Also present during the event were Albay provincial Agriculturist Cheryl Rebeta, Vicente Moyo, municipal counclor of Camalig; Stephanie Breboneria, president, Bicol Irrigators Association Federation; Carlito P.Aquino; MAFC chair of Ocampo. Hilda A. Lopez, assistant provincial agriculturist, agricultural extension workers and farmer leader representatives from the different provinces of Bicol and media representatives who also covered the event. (EMILY B. BORDADO)