MANILA -- The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) targets to increase the number of certified farmer-mechanics in the country through its "Magsasakang Mekaniko" program that aims to provide maintenance services for small agricultural equipment nationwide.

In a statement, PhilMech said it targets to produce 200 more farmer mechanics, following its production of 68 mechanics for motorcycle/small engine servicing (MSES) with national certificate II and 29 mechanics for small engine servicing with certificate of competency last year.

PhilMech, an agency under the Agriculture Department, launched the program in 2017 in cooperation with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Agricultural Manufacturers and Distributors Association, Labor and Employment Department, Davao regional office of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology.

PhilMech program leader Arnel Apaga said the program “aims to pool a core of rural agricultural machinery technicians” from farmers and other rural laborers.

Small farm equipment covers hand tractors and tillers, harvesters, and millers. They need to be regularly maintained by farmer-mechanics. (PNA)