In a significant move towards modernizing agriculture and boosting local food production, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) spearheaded the Inception Workshop on the BAFE-FAO Project, TCP/PHI/3907.


This pioneering project, titled “Improving Capacities on the Adoption of a Harmonized Mechanization Index to Increase the Level of Mechanization Efficiency of Rice and Corn Production,” aims to transform the way we approach mechanization in agriculture.



The workshop, held on November 7, 2023, at the SRA Social Hall in Quezon City, witnessed the active participation of 26 online attendees, including representatives from the Regional Agricultural Engineering Divisions (RAEDs) from CAR, 1, 3, and 4A to 13, as well as in-person participants representing RAED 2, DA-PhilRice, the National Corn Program, PLGU Isabela, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), DA-Special Projects Coordination and Management Assistance Division (SPCMAD), DA-Monitoring and Evaluation Division (MED), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project team. 


DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico, emphasizing the timeliness of the FAO project, stated that it aligns with the thrust of newly-appointed DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to bolster food production and modernize agriculture through mechanization. To achieve this, an accurate inventory of farm machinery is imperative, he explained.


All local government units (LGUs) are now required to craft Local Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Plans (LAFMPs) for rice and corn, and Director Rico is eager to rationalize and understand the distribution of farm machinery across the country. This move toward mechanization is further supported by the National Agriculture and Fisheries Mechanization Plan (NAFMP) 2023-2028, which has already been adopted by the DA, providing a solid foundation for policy directions under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.


DA-BAFE Assistant Director Juana Tapel set the expectations for the workshop, emphasizing the need to freely exchange ideas and experiences regarding mechanization index and the level of mechanization, particularly focusing on rice and corn. She highlighted BAFE’s efforts in digitalization, such as the ABEMIS and GeoAgri map, which catalogs various machineries’ specifications and ownership. Asst. Dir. Tapel urged the participants to consider physical, technical, cultural, and operational efficiencies in the deployment of machinery, aiming to address mismatches observed in the field.


Engr. Cristy Cecilia Polido, BAFE-PPMD Chief, highlighted the importance of LOM as an indicator recognized by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). She emphasized the need for a precise measure of mechanization in the country, as the Philippines currently lags in mechanization compared to other Asian countries. Engr. Polido discussed the three existing level of mechanization (LOM) protocols developed by PHilMech, UPLB, and PhilRice. Under the FAO project, the aim is to harmonize these protocols and provide a unified measure for LGUs.


Engr. Kelvin Michael Crystal, the Project Coordinator of FAO Representation in the Philippines, stressed that the project’s general objective is to support the adoption of a harmonized mechanization index (MI) to enhance the LOM in rice and corn production, a critical step towards increasing productivity and efficiency in these key crops.


The project’s work plan outlines the impact, outcomes, and target for increased mechanization in rice and corn production. The project intends to improve mechanization efficiency, based on a harmonized MI, ultimately contributing to increased food production. The project seeks to increase the LOM by 10% from the baseline by 2025, said Engr. Crystal.


The project will collaborate closely with PHilMech, PhilRice, and UPLB, which have already developed existing protocols. The challenge lies in harmonizing these protocols into a single LOM measure. Once FAO has developed a protocol, it will integrate into the existing management information system.


In his closing remarks, FAO Country Representative Lionel Henri Valentin Dabbadie extended his gratitude to the workshop participants while emphasizing the significance of sustainable mechanization in improving farming practices and enhancing food security. Dabbadie also stressed the potential for sustainable agricultural mechanization to streamline postharvest processing and marketing activities, making them more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly. Ultimately, this would benefit both farmers and consumers alike, he added. ###Marshall Louie Asis, MC / DA-BAFE