MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday expressed confidence that the partnership between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO) would boost the food production in the Philippines.
This, as Marcos witnessed the DA and KAMICO's signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperative partnership for agricultural machinery in a ceremony at Malacañan Palace in Manila.
The MOU's salient features include the establishment of a local agricultural machinery manufacturing cluster such as assembly production line, research and development of agricultural machinery technology, workforce training on agricultural machinery technology and a grant of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to further explore potential projects.
During the ceremonial signing, Marcos said the partnership on agricultural mechanization is vital to improve productivity and ensure food security in the country.
Acknowledging the partnership's importance to increase the rice supply, Marcos said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) would complement the mechanization initiatives.
“We all recognized very clearly the importance of mechanization for our country because we are trying to move the production, we are trying to make sure that at least the local supply for rice is sufficient and, of course, hopefully, also the other crops,” Marcos, who concurrently serves as DA secretary, said.
“The key to all of this is mechanization and all of the things that we’re trying to do. We have some programs to mechanize. We have the RCEF Program, in which is the collections from the tariffs on rice importations are then applied also to mechanize,” he added.
Marcos said establishing a local machinery production is the "first step towards agricultural development," as it would result in better yield and lower production cost, making Filipino farmers more competitive.
KAMICO said an initial investment of USD30 million would be made for the implementation of Phase 1 of the project.
The amount would be tripled in the second phase, KAMICO noted.
The project aims to ensure food self-sufficiency; transform the Philippines as a food exporting country; increase employment and farmers’ income; establish infrastructure on agricultural mechanization and industrialization; and pursue technology transfer and production of specialized machinery.
Present during the signing of MOU were DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) director Dionisio Alvindia, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, KAMICO chairperson Shin Gil Kim and KAMICO Director Si Min Yi, according to a Facebook post by state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM).
The DA and KAMICO have already collaborated on various agricultural projects.
Among their completed projects are adaptability testing of a self-propelled Mechanical Elevating Work Platform for mango production operations, and technology performance verification and adaptation of a mechanized onion production system.
Their ongoing projects include pilot adoption and pre-commercialization of PhilMech-KAMICO developed corn mill; technology advice and solutions from South Korea; and Agricultural Mechanization Design and Prototyping Center project.
KAMICO, established in 1962 and recognized by the Korean government, has more than 650 members and is a major player in the mechanization of Korea’s agriculture sector.
KAMICO actively works in the global agricultural machinery industry by providing aid to developing countries, dispatching investment research groups to emerging markets overseas and conducting training for international customers.
Meantime, Marcos sought the "aggressive" implementation of the PHP45.01 billion Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up to develop the country’s agricultural sector for the benefit of Filipino farmers, fisherfolk and consumers.
He made the call, as he presided over a meeting with concerned government officials and the World Bank (WB) at Malacañan Palace to discuss updates on the PRDP Scale-Up following the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board's approval of the project.
“We really have to develop the agricultural sector. So, let’s keep going. And, of course, what I am always reminded of is that we sometimes speak, in terms of agriculture, speak only of production. We have also to look at the farmers, fishermen,” Marcos said.
“Our priorities are going towards the same direction... We will just have to scale up and do the necessary things,” he added.
The PRDP Scale-Up, which is set to be implemented from 2024 to 2029, aims to empower local farmers and fisherfolk by enhancing agricultural productivity, income opportunities and living condition in rural areas across 82 provinces.
Marcos said the government has to balance everything and make sure that farmers produce and earn more while the consumers have sufficient food supply at affordable prices.
He also raised the need for consolidation and inclusivity, as well as partitioning of the collective Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) for families to make farmland usable.
The PRDP Scale-Up is anchored in various components that seeks to empower the agri-fishery sector. These include Local and National Level Planning, Rural Infrastructure Market Linkage, Enterprise Development and Project Implementation Support.
The project interventions would introduce a broader perspective in investment planning that promotes clustering and consolidation, prioritizes farm-to-market roads and forges partnership with the private sector all within the context of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP) 2021-2030.
Preparations for looming El Niño
Meantime, Panganiban ensured that the DA is taking the necessary actions to prepare the agriculture and fisheries sector ahead of the looming El Niño phenomenon this year.
“We in the DA are doing our best in trying to allocate the resources like seeds, fertilizers, and other commodities that are necessary for the impact of the El Niño phenomenon to the farming communities in the country,” Panganiban, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office in a news release on Tuesday, said.
The DA’s National El Niño Team (DA-NENT) on June 1 convened its first inter-agency meeting with the Food Security Group under the NENT- National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to discuss the actions taken and plans of the member-agencies.
DA Field Operations Service director and DA-NENT chairperson U-Nichols Manalo presented the mitigation and adaptation plan for crops, fisheries, and livestock subsectors, anchored on four thematic areas of the disaster risk reduction and management framework.
The four thematic areas are prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and rehabilitation and recovery, while the strategies include information dissemination, proper water management, prepositioning of resources, crop diversification, adjustment of planting calendar, buffer stocking of inputs, promotion of short cycle and drought tolerant crops.
“DA is already preparing for the worst scenario for El Niño this year. Nevertheless, we will be of course expecting PAGASA to provide us regular updates on this. Sana po ay hindi naman magtuloy, but we should always prepare for the worst case scenario,” DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Arnel De Mesa said, adding that the government would focus more on areas that will be severely hit. (PNA)