The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) is actively spearheading initiatives to establish and strengthen agricultural and biosystems engineer (ABE) groups within Local Government Units (LGUs).
This collaborative endeavor, in conjunction with DA-Regional Field Office-Regional Agricultural Engineering Divisions (RAEDs), is a concerted effort to fortify the ABE landscape across the Philippines and usher in a new era of sustainable mechanization and agricultural innovation.
ABEs are vital for the nation’s development, as they design and implement machinery and systems for agri-fisheries mechanization, irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and other rural infrastructures, said DA-BAFE Director Ariodear Rico.
“ABEs are also the pioneers of change, custodians of sustainability, and champions of modern, appropriate, and sustainable mechanization technologies and practices,” Dir. Rico added.
As of December 2023, there are 1,888 ABEs employed in LGUs, with 1,089 in municipalities, 472 in provinces, and 327 in cities. Seventy out of 76 provinces, 74 out of 145 cities, and 587 out of 1,371 municipalities have ABEs in their LGU organizational staffing, based on the data from the BAFE Programs and Projects Management Division (PPMD).
These ABE groups have become the Office of the Provincial/City/Municipal Agricultural and Biosystems Engineer, and are now mandatory positions under the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. of 2022. The circular sets the guidelines and standards for the establishment and organizational structures and staffing patterns in LGUs, and requires them to create mandatory positions with corresponding budget and approval by the Sanggunian. The LGUs must also comply with the 45% to 55% budgetary limitations for personnel services, as stated in Section 5 of the circular.
The BAFE-PPMD report highlights the creation of one Office of the Provincial Agricultural and Biosystems Engineer (OPABE) Department and 25 ABE Divisions across various provinces, underscoring the nationwide scope of ABE integration. Additionally, 7 ABE Sections have been established, further solidifying ABE groups across the country.
The establishment of LGU ABE Offices aligns with the provisions in Section 46 of RA No. 8435 (Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act or AFMA) and Section 29 of RA No. 10601 (Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Law or AFMech Law), as well as DA-DBM-CSC-DILG Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No.2, series of 2020.
Dir. Rico emphasized that the AFMA and AFMech Law provide LGUs with the authority to perform crucial functions related to agri-fisheries mechanization, irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and other rural infrastructures.
Moreover, the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling and Executive Order (EO) 138 directs the LGUs to fully implement the devolved functions, services, and facilities under Section 17 of the Local Government Code and other pertinent laws.
LGU ABE Units/Offices have been tasked with formulating and implementing Local Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Plans (LAFMP) for approval by the Sanggunian in accordance with Section 33 of AFMech Law.
Notably, BAFE has received 117 LAFMPs and has already reviewed 64 of them. Nine LGUs, including Aurora province, Taytay and Tanay in Rizal, Mauban and Polillo in Quezon, Daet and Labo in Camarines Norte, Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, and Malungon in Sarangani, have successfully finalized their respective LAFMPs as of December 2023.
Dir. Rico commended the LGUs for their efforts and urged them to continue to support the ABE groups in their areas. He also encouraged the ABEs to uphold their professionalism and ethics, and to serve the public with excellence and integrity.
As ABE units expand their presence across the country, the Philippines stands ready for a substantial advancement in agricultural innovation and sustainable development, propelled by the committed endeavors of ABE professionals operating at the grassroots level. ###(Engr. Benjamin Baradi and Marshall Louie Asis, MC/ DA-BAFE)