“This practice is a testament to our commitment to help improve the facilities of the university.” This sums up Department of Agriculture-Bicol Rodel P. Tornilla’s message during the Memorandum of Agreement Signing for the DA and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) Collaboration under the Farm Mechanization Program (AF Mech Law) held on August 26, 2020 at the CBSUA in Pili, Camarines Sur. The Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Law stipulates the provision of farm equipment and machineries to farmers and other stakeholders.

Funded under the Rice Program of the DA, the MOA signing seals the partnership between the agency and the CBSUA in pursuing agricultural development in Bicol with the DA providing one unit of 4WD tractor with 35 horsepower (hp) and one combine harvester with 35 hp worth a total of P2.19 million which the latter may use to enhance their instruction and extension programs as it will provide opportunity for agricultural students to use these machineries and make them appreciate the benefits of mechanization.

According to Tornilla, 60 to 80 percent of the DA-Bicol’s manpower are CBSUA alumni, like himself. Hence, he considers it an investment to provide the institution with the support it needs to equip the agency’s future manpower in implementing its mandate. Also, the partnership is one of the DA’s strategies to address the ageing population of Filipino farmers. He hopes that these efforts will renew the youth’s interest in agriculture, the biggest industry in the region. He added that the collaboration aims not only to showcase the machineries being used by the agriculture sector today but to develop the CBSUA into a regional testing center for agri-machineries as well as generate additional income for the university. Tornilla noted that the Agricultural Machinery and Evaluation Testing Center (AMTEC) in Los Baños, Laguna is the country’s only reference testing center of agricultural and fisheries machinery for procurement by the government.

In his message, Dr. Alberto N. Naperi, CBSUA president, thanked the DA for the technologies it has delivered to the university including the hybrid rice technology demonstration in Calabanga and Sipocot campus as well as the chicken production techno demo. He also assured the DA of their commitment to fulfill their shared mission to extend agricultural technologies to the community.

Napire said that during his administration, the university revised its Vision, Mission and Goals. CBSUA’s new vision is to become a national agricultural research university. “We cannot achieve this without a strong partnership with the Department of Agriculture. As of the present, the DA and CBSUA have a partnership to engage in research activities as well as extension activities. With this partnership we will only have one direction in the research and extensions program. We need the DA for us to implement our programs… We need to collaborate and support each other in order to maximize the support of the government,” Napire said.

For her part, Dr. Ramona Isabel S. Ramirez, CBSUA’s Director for Research and DA Collaboration Focal Person acknowledged the role of agriculture in attaining food security, agricultural development and economic empowerment. Also present during the MOA signing and turn-over of the machinery were DA-Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino, Regional Agricultural and Engineering Division Chief Engr. Nilda T. Albaño, Engr. Jennifer M. Eboña, Dean of CBSUA College of Engineering and Food Science, Atty. Dominador F. Faurillo, Vice President for Administration and Finance and Dr. Emerson L. Bergonio, Institutional Planning and Development Director.

As the DA’s regional executive director, Tornilla is a member of the Board of Regents of five state universities and colleges (SUCs) in Bicol, that offer agriculture-related courses including the CBSUA. He graduated from the university in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture major in Agricultural Economics.

Stipulated in the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AF Mech) Law is the delivery of “integrated support services to farmers, fisherfolk and other stakeholders, and assist them to be able to viably operate and manage their agricultural and fisheries mechanization projects.” In his State of Philippine Agriculture report delivered on August 5, 2020, DA Secretary William D. Dar cited continuous modernization of the agriculture sector by providing modern and appropriate technologies as one of the department’s major strategies to strengthen and upgrade the performance of the sector. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credits: Eduardo D. Collantes Jr. and Hermito Antonio T. Privaldos, DA RAFIS V