President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law a bill in a bid to boost the modernization of the agriculture and fisheries sector.
The Chief Executive signed on June 5 Republic Act No. 10601 otherwise known as the “Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law”.
The Act, which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 3338 and House Bill No. 6548, was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on February 4, 2013.
The law mandates the state to promote the development and adoption of modern, appropriate and cost-effective and environmentally-safe agricultural and fisheries machinery and equipment to enhance farm productivity and efficiency in order to achieve food security and safety and increase farmers’ income, the President said.
The state is mandated to provide a conducive environment for the assembly and manufacture of engines, machinery and equipment for agricultural and fisheries production, processing and marketing.
The state shall strengthen support services such as credit faculties, research, training and extension programs, rural infrastructures, postharvest facilities and marketing services.
The law, likewise, mandates the state to deliver integrated support services to farmers, fisherfolk and other stakeholders, and assist them to be able to viably operate and manage their agricultural and fisheries mechanization projects.
Under the Act, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will craft a five-year National Agri-Fishery Program to promote a conducive-environment for the local assembling and manufacturing of equipment for agricultural and fisheries production, processing and marketing.
The local government units, through an ordinance, shall also formulate in consultation with the DA and implement their respective provincial, city and municipal agricultural and fishery mechanization plans as a vital component of their respective local development plans.
The DA, together with the Department of Agrarian Reform, shall carry out contiguous farming projects in order to effect suitable field shapes and sizes conducive to efficient operation of agricultural machinery and equipment and likewise to ensure economies of scale.
The use of renewable and nonconventional energy such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and other farm-based energy sources shall be promoted as power sources for the operation and maintenance of agricultural and fisheries machinery.
All manufacturers, fabricators, assemblers and importers must register with the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (BAFE) within six months upon enactment of RA 10601.
Registrants must provide certification by an accredited certifying body of all products sold in the market within the next three years. Registrants must also submit to the list of local or imported equipment within a year after the enactment of the law.
The law imposes penalties and sanctions on prohibited acts such as sale or lease of agricultural and fishery machinery not registered with the BAFE and without warranty, among others. Violators of the law may face a fine ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 and imprisonment of two months to one year.
“The Secretary of Agriculture shall include in the DA’s program the implementation of this Act, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act,” the President said.
This Act shall take effect after 15 days from its publication in the Official Gazette or 2 newspapers of general circulation.