Press Release
February 16, 2015

Senate seeks to modernize agricultural and
biosystems engineering profession

The Senate today passed on third and final reading a bill seeking to repeal Republic Act No. 8559, which governs the practice of agricultural engineering in the country and make it more relevant and globally competitive.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the measure was important in giving the Philippines an edge in developing and modernizing its agricultural sector, stressing that the country's agricultural workers "must strive to keep up with our competitors, in terms of methods and technologies employed."

"Agriculture remains an integral part of our economic growth, and we must welcome every innovation to help agricultural workers, who represent a third of the nation's workforce, keep up with new regional or global market demands," Drilon said.

Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, sponsor and author of Senate Bill 2434, underscored the need to update the law governing agricultural engineering, which he said was passed 17 years ago, to keep up with new technologies and global trend.

"After 17 years, there are new developments and transformation worldwide on the practice of agricultural engineering which necessitates the immediate updating of the law," Trillanes said.

Along with Trillanes, the bill was co-authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

"We are now lagging behind US, Europe, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Agricultural engineering, as a profession, has transformed into agricultural and biosystems engineering," he added.

Unless the Philippines would modernize the practice of agricultural engineering, Trillanes warned, the agriculture sector would be adversely affected, especially with the commencement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration.

"Our agricultural sector, being part of the biosystem, is faced with threats from climate change, soil erosion and environmental degradation. In order to cope with these challenges, it is necessary that our country has a strong, empowered and competitive Philippine agricultural and biosystems engineers," he said. Trillanes said accreditation of specialization for the practice of agricultural engineers such as agricultural meteorology and soil and water conservation would be established and institutionalized under the bill.

Agricultural meteorology refers to the study and application of relations between meteorology and agriculture while soil and water conservation is the management of soil to prevent or reduce soil erosion and depletion by wind and water, and the protection, development, and efficient management of water resources.

"These are all vital and important for food security and climate change mitigation program and shall be strengthened in the bill," Trillanes said.

He said that the Bachelor of Science Agricultural Engineering presently being offered in 46 higher education institutions in the country would be transformed into B.S. Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering once the proposed bill would be enacted into law.

He said the agricultural and biosystems engineering curriculum would be enhanced with masteral and doctoral degree, including the tech-voc ladderized program on agricultural and biosystems engineering.

Agriculture and Bio-systems engineering is the application of engineering science and designs to the processes and systems involved in the sustainable production and post-production of safe food, feed, fiber, timber and other agricultural and biological materials and the efficient utilization, conservation and management of natural and renewable resources in order to enhance human health in harmony with the environment. (MaeJoy Albano)

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