The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) on Monday said it will proceed with the bidding and acquisition of farm machinery worth PHP5 billion next month.
This, after they have recently completed at least 99 percent of the bidding for the PHP10-billion farm machinery for the period 2019 and 2020.
The expenditures are funded under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Mechanization Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that was materialized through the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) or the Republic Act 11203.
“We assure the agriculture stakeholders that the agency’s acquisition and distribution of farm machines, and training of farmer cooperatives and associations (FCAs) will be sustained despite the spikes in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19),” PhilMech Executive Director Baldwin Jallorina said during the virtual press conference, noting the resumption of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and four other provinces.
As of March 29, PhilMech data showed that 15,046 units of various farm machines have been procured out of the targeted 23,378 units. Of the total, 13,499 were delivered and distributed to qualified FCAs, benefitting at least 155,000 million farmers.
Apart from farm machinery, PHilMech has been conducting training for members of FCAs, and has reached 57 rice-producing provinces nationwide covered under the RCEF-Mechanization Program.
Also, the training courses on the operation and maintenance of rice machines are mostly conducted face-to-face already, despite the pandemic.
“We at PhilMech strongly believe that this year is a pivotal one as 2021 is the third year of the sixth year for the implementation of the RCEF-Mechanization component and the other RCEF programs,” Jallorina said.
Under the RCEF, which started in March 2019, the government removed the quota system on rice importation and replaced it with tariff through the passage of RA 11203, starting on March 5, 2019 until 2024.
The tariff is pegged at 35 percent if rice importation is from within ASEAN; to 180 percent, if above the MAV and from a non-ASEAN country.
The government nears the half-way point in the implementation of RCEF programs.
Stipulated in the RTL, PHP10 billion will be allocated annually for a period of six years from 2019 to 2024 for programs to improve the competitiveness of the Philippine rice industry.
Source: Philippines News Agency