The chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food cited the entry of Yanmar Philippines in the local market as a big boost to the farm mechanization efforts in the country.
Sen. Cynthia Villar was one of the main speakers during the launching of the farm machines from Yanmar of Japan that include tractors for land preparation, mechanical rice transplanters and combine harvesters. These were launched last March 17 at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.
Yanmar of Japan has partnered with Ropali Group of Companies for the local distribution of the farm machines. Ropali, founded by Roberto P. Alingog, is a diversified company with a wide distribution network and banking facilities. It is also into manufacturing and real estate.
The availability of the farm machines will enable the Filipino farmers to increase their productivity at less cost, and become more efficient and competitive. With Yanmar here, our farmers and agricultural workers will be exposed to advanced and state-of-the-art Japanese technology and machineries, according to Sen. Villar.
The lady senator observed that the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) seems slow. AFMA calls for the allocation of at least P20 billion a year for agriculture modernization programs and projects, yet the country lags far behind its regional neighbors in farm mechanization. It is a far fifth placer to Japan, South Korea, China and Thailand, according to her.
She is glad, however, that the Department of Agriculture is already strengthening mechanization efforts in the agriculture sector. She said that recently, she was with the DA during the distribution of farm machines and the launch of projects worth P1.1 billion in Regions 11 and 12 in Mindanao.
NEW LAW, AFMECH – Sen. Villar expressed optimism that the new Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMECH) law will help promote the development and adoption of modern, appropriate, cost-effective and environmentally safe agricultural and fisheries machinery and equipment. This will enhance farm productivity and efficiency to achieve food security and increase farmers’ income.
She revealed that no less than NEDA, the National Economic and Development Authority, has acknowledged also that we need to invest in research and development (R&D), and that we can increase the productivity of agriculture and boost job creation in the industry through science and technology. This is expected to fast track the growth of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry (AFF) sector, she said.
Sen, Villar cited the need to improve the global competitiveness of our farmers and the country’s agriculture sector as a whole. The country’s integration into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) starting December this year will bring about cutthroat competition, thus we have to be globally competitive, she concluded.
CESAR E.A. VIRATA – The other speaker at the product launching was former Finance Minister Cesar E. A. Virata. He stressed the need for more investments in agriculture for a number of very good reasons.
For one, the Philippines imports a lot of agricultural products, which means there is a ready market for as long as the local produce is competitive. Aside from rice, our big agricultural imports include coffee, cacao, milk and others. Another reason is that there are wide unutilized or under-utilized areas which could be harnessed for crop and livestock production.
There is also plenty of local capital that is just lying idle. He pointed out there is a lot of savings but these are not invested in agriculture.
He hinted that the land reform program should not be extended because after all these years, the poor farmers have remained poor if not poorer. What he advocates is that the experts should come up of a model of development for each crop that will produce commercial quantities of quality agricultural products.
Clustering of production of certain products could be an approach to commercial production. This could lead to value-adding through the establishment of processing plants. However, in order for processing plants to prosper, there should be continuous supply of raw materials that will ensure their year-round operation.
Virata, for instance, lamented the establishment of a tomato processing plant in Bukidnon that did not prosper because there was lack of raw materials for processing.