THE Department of Agriculture said it plans to give farmer-beneficiaries a seat on the bids and awards committees of projects intended to benefit their communities to give them a say in the procurement process.

Addressing Undersecretary Roldan G. Gorgonio, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said: “I would like you to prepare an administrative order that will direct all bids and awards committees all over the country to include in the terms of reference the ‘end-users preference.’” in all such projects.

Mr. Piñol made the remarks during the launch of the Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Month on Monday in Quezon City.

“In the bids and awards committee… I will issue another administrative order directing that in the bids and awards committee in every procurement we have [an] observer galing sa grupo nung [from the group of the] intended beneficiary nung [of the] project para nakikita nila [so they can be aware of the project plans],” he added.

Mr. Piñol said that farmers will be more productive if their preferences are heeded in procurement as they are up to date on conditions in their farmlands.

“It is not right (just) to spend more, but a willingness to invest properly in equipment and goods will ensure productivity,” he said.

Directives in the past were only treated like advisories ad were not incorporated in the terms of reference in the procurement.

“The procurement programs of the government should be effective in the context of providing answers to the needs of the agencies that are conducting the procurement and the end-users,” he noted.

Hindi kasi ordinary procurement ‘yung sa agriculture [The procurement in agriculture is not typical]. These are items that would spell the key difference between greater productivity and low productivity,” he said.

Asked for comment, Rolando T. Dy, head of agribusinesss studies center of University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), said that it would be better to have a group of experts per product group.

“From an agri(culture) expert Toto (Arsenio) Barcelona of PCAFI (Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.) (said) the best is still to have a competent technical group for each product group. Say small hand tractors for veggies, or separately for rice. Since our CTG (competent technical group) mechanization rate is still less than 2%, our farmers are not the party to decide. The CTG will evaluate top quality machines, and make a short list of high, medium, low price models that are useful to farmers,” he told BusinessWorld in a text message.

Marites M. Tiongco, associate professor and dean of the De la Salle University’s School of Economics, said a need for the farmers to be well represented.

“You need to random sample from small farmers not only associations… one representative is ok,” she told BusinessWorld in a text message. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang