Rice farm equipment faces delays due to budget, procurement issues

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Philmech’s Mini Rice Combine Harvester Prototype

MECHANIZATION of rice farms in the country will begin next year as the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) can only begin procurement once it receives its budget, an official said.

“Late this year or early next year,” Raul R. Paz, PHilMech Deputy Director, told reporters in a briefing in Quezon City on Friday, when asked when farm machinery will be delivered to the farmers.

“Our reckoning actually is when the budget will be released,” Mr. Paz said, adding that “we’re now starting with validating the lists of farmers in the municipalities.”

According to Mr. Paz, procurement will start in August, with the bidding process expected to “take a while.”

The equipment include transplanters and four-wheeled tractors, to be sourced from domestic manufacturers.

Mr. Paz also said PHilMech needs more funding to expand its manpower and do the work expected of it under the Rice Tariffication Law.

“As soon as the [funding] is released, we will be hiring,” Mr. Paz said.

Mechanization will cover 57 rice-producing provinces which are deemed priority areas.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said that it has released P5 billion for the rice industry development program of the government, with Mr. Paz saying none of this went to PHilMech. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio