MANILA, Philippines — Several equipment supposed to be of use by farmers who have been awarded with their own farm lots, remain unutilized as of the end of 2016, the Commission on Audit found out.
In an annual audit report recently published on its website the COA said that from 2013 to 2014, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) listed 1,729 units of farm equipment up for procurement with total released budget of P1.576 billion.
The purchase of the equipment was part of the implementation of DAR’s Common Service Facilities (CSF) project, a major component of the agency’s Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) program which aims to provide “strategic intervention” to the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) for them to retain the awarded lands.
The DAR said the CSF project’s end-goal is “to increase the productivity and income of farmers and for them to become enterprising and not limited to the subsistence level of production”.
The COA noted that from 2015 to 2016, a total 1,565 units of farm equipment were already delivered to the beneficiaries while 164 units remain undelivered “due to failed biddings.”
The COA further noted that of the delivered equipment, 145 units amounting to P66,275,900 remain unused by the beneficiaries as of Dec. 31, 2016, due to some “factory defects,” incompatibility with the size of the farm lots, and lack of proper training of the farmers in using the equipment.
The COA said the non-utilization of the equipment “defeated” the CFS’ purposes and resulted in the “wastage of government funds.”
Among the equipment which remain idle are several units of ten-wheeler heavy duty dump trucks, tractors with trailer and mounted disc plow, corn shellers, flatbed dryers, floating tillers, hand tractors with implements, water pumps, mechanical transplanters, cultivators, rice reapers, rice threshers, shredders, harvesters and fiber dryers.
The ARB offices (ARBOs) said the dump trucks were too heavy and huge in size causing damage to the farm-to-market roads while “some equipment/accessories are not operational/with factory defects/ but not returned to the suppliers”.
The ARBOs further said most of the item delivered, such as the tractors, rice threshers and reapers, corn shellers and mechanical transplanters, “are not practical” because they are too large and heavy to be transported from one farm area to another while the beneficiaries have small lands to cultivate.
The COA recommended to the DAR to study the possibility of transferring the unutilized equipment to other ARBOs in need thereof and to conduct hands-on training of the beneficiaries on the use of the equipment.
The COA also said the DAR must also notify the suppliers of the defective equipment and demand a repair or replacement.
Lastly, the COA said the DAR must always “consider the characteristics of the area/location of the intended beneficiaries in the procurement of equipment.”