By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
A deal among the government and private groups has been signed to upgrade the skills of farmers and fishermen on farm mechanization.
The agreement was forged by Philippine Society of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers (PSABE), Inc., the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fishery (PCAF) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association (AMMDA). The multisectoral group seeks to undertake a collaborative project to train at least 300 agricultural and biosystems engineers (ABEs).
Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA), the TESDA, DA, PSABE and AMMDA will roll out and undertake several Training Regulations (TRs) currently conducted by TESDA, namely Rice Machinery Operation; Agricultural Machinery Operation (Non-Rice); Drying and Milling Plant Servicing; Milking Operation; Rubber Processing; Agricultural Machinery Servicing (Tractor); and Pressurized Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance.
Those who will complete the aforementioned TRs will be issued National Certificate (NC) II or III.
TESDA will also allocate and provide scholarships to the participants and mobilize its regional and provincial officers to provide necessary support.
For its part, the DA shall sustain and continue the conduct of its training for ABEs towards their accreditation as AfMech Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) trainers and competence assessors. Also, farmers, fishermen and farm workers will also be trained to become competent and certified agri-fishery machine operators and technicians, through the DA-Agricultural Training Institute and in partnership with TESDA, PSABE, AMMDA and other concerned government and private sector groups.
PSABE will then mobilize its local members to support the collaborative undertaking, and provide experts for the development and review of new and existing TRs, competency assessment tools, and assessment fees.
According to PSABE President Dennis Tactac, the agreement paves the way for a collaborative project to develop and advance agriculture and fishery mechanization in the country in consonance with Republic Act 10601 or the Agricultural and Fishery Mechanization Law (AfMech) of 2013.
“This collaboration will lead to the training of experts for the various expertise in agriculture and fishery mechanization, with PSABE providing ABEs who are more than willing to provide significant contributions to upgrade the country’s agriculture sector more competitive both at the regional and global levels,” he said.
Furthermore, PSABE will encourage investments in TVET such as establishment of assessment centers and TVET institutions, both private and public, in collaboration with TESDA, DA and AMMDA.
AMMDA will also mobilize its members for support, through the competency assessment and accreditation of employed agri-fishery machine operators, technicians and concerned workers to the appropriate TRs.
Also, ABEs who are members of AMMDA will be tapped as TVET competency assessors and trainers. Tactac said the collaborative effort is timely since the country’s agriculture sector is facing a big challenge from globalization with the liberalization of rice imports, among others.
“The liberalization of rice imports that is currently affecting many rice farmers demonstrates clearly the effects of globalization. By getting our acts together through collective action, as Agriculture Secretary William Dar has been advocating, we can make our farmers competitive initially at the regional level, and eventually globally,” Tactac said.