Tieup with SoKor boosts PH afri, food sectors—PBBM

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. hopes the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and South Korea would improve the country's agricultural productivity and food security.

President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. (Malacañang photo)
AGRICULTURAL COLLABORATION - President Marcos meets with officials of the Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO) in Malacañang on June 6, 2023, to boost the Philippines' agricultural productivity and food security. (Malacañang photo)

Marcos said this following the ceremonial signing of the MOU on Cooperative Partnership for Agricultural Machinery between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO) on Tuesday, June 6.

In his speech, the President stressed the importance of mechanization to agricultural production, saying it was the government's goal to boost food production, particularly rice.

"We all recognized very clearly the importance of mechanization for our country because we are trying to move the production; we are trying to make sure that at least the local supply for rice is sufficient and, of course, hopefully, also the other crops," he said.

"The key to all of this is mechanization and all of the things that we're trying to do. We have some programs to mechanize. We have the RCEF (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) program, in which the collections from the tariffs on rice importations are then applied also to mechanize," he added.

According to Marcos, establishing local machinery production is the first step toward agricultural development. It is expected to result in better yield and lower production costs, making Filipino farmers more competitive.

Among the salient features of the MOU include the establishment in the country of a local agricultural machinery manufacturing cluster, including an assembly production line, research and development of agricultural machinery technology, workforce training on agricultural machinery technology, and a grant of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to further explore potential projects.

Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil, citing a KAMICO official, said that an initial investment of $30 million would be made in Phase 1 of the project and triple that amount in the second phase.

"The project is expected to result in food production self-sufficiency; the Philippines becoming a food-exporting country; increased employment and farmers' income; establishment of infrastructure on agricultural mechanization and industrialization; and technology transfer and production of specialized machinery," she said.

The Palace official said that the DA has been collaborating with KAMICO for some time now. Among the completed projects are adaptability testing of a self-propelled Mechanical Elevating Work Platform for mango production operations and technology performance verification and adaptation of a mechanized onion production system.

Ongoing projects, on the other hand, include pilot adoption and pre-commercialization of the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) - KAMICO developed corn mill; technology advice and solutions from South Korea; Agricultural Mechanization Design and Prototyping Center project.

Established in 1962 and recognized by the Korean government, KAMICO has more than 650 members and is a significant player in the mechanization of Korea's agriculture sector.

KAMICO actively works in the global agricultural machinery industry by providing aid to developing countries, dispatching investment research groups to emerging markets overseas, and conducting training for international customers.