AMTEC Celebrates its 45 Years

#AMTECThroughTheYears: AMTEC Celebrates its 45 Years in Public Service

By: Cielo Anne Pabella

The Agricultural Machinery Testing and Evaluation Center (AMTEC) concluded its month-long 45th anniversary celebration on August 12 with the theme, “AMTEC through the years of serving the agricultural and fishery sectors in the country towards sustainable development and global competitiveness”.

AMTEC is the country’s premiere and reference testing center of agricultural machinery. Pursuant to the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10601), AMTEC performs three important mandates: 1) testing and evaluation 2) training and linkages and 3) assistance to standards development.

A look back at AMTEC

From approximately 10 employees back in 1977 during its establishment, AMTEC has continually grown in terms of its services, manpower, and facilities. At present, AMTEC has 47 employees serving its primary stakeholders – the farmers and fisherfolks, the government, and the private machinery sector.

AMTEC Staff (2022)

In partnership with the Department of Agriculture- Regional Field Office VI (DA-RFO VI) and the University of Southeastern Philippines (UsEP), AMTEC has expanded its reach through the establishment of its satellite centers in Visayas and Mindanao. In addition, AMTEC has partnered with academic institutions for test engineer accreditation and laboratory usage.

Dr. Isagani A. Sarmiento, former AMTEC Director, recalled how AMTEC fought for its funding, identity, and relevance in its early years. He remarked during the culminating event, “The search for identity and relevance was a challenge then. I’m glad to find out that AMTEC grew through the years. In all its endeavors, AMTEC should never forget to exercise righteousness in its work in the presence of authority, integrity, and relevance.” 

Academic-based Institution: The 2022 AMTEC Blended Internship

Since its establishment, AMTEC has continuously extended its instructional efforts for the university’s agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE) program. These instructional initiatives include technical assistance and use of facilities for instruction, research, internship programs, field works, and test and evaluation trainings.

On July 4, AMTEC began its month-long celebration through the first blended (online and face-to-face set-up) internship program on testing and evaluation. A total of 21 interns were trained under the supervision of AMTEC engineers with guidance from Dr. Omar Zubia and Engr. Luther Manuel of the Institute of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (IABE).

The interns, divided into five teams, were introduced to the testing and evaluation process of the center including data encoding and inventory, laboratory analysis, machine testing, and QGIS application. The interns also assisted in standards development and attended technical working group (TWG) meetings with various government agencies.

The AMTEC midyear internship ended on August 12 through the interns’ presentation of program outputs. In her closing remarks, Engr. Jehosa Reyes, the Internship Coordinator, expressed that she immensely believes in the power of the youth toward the greater vision of sustainable agricultural mechanization in the country.

Interns and Supervisors of the 2022 AMTEC Blended Internship

On July 27, AMTEC also facilitated a photo contest among students and professionals working in the agricultural sector particularly in agricultural mechanization. The winners of the photo contest are Mr. Ariel Langcauon (1st place), Mr. Reysan Bautista (2nd place), and Ms. Dree Fernando (3rd place).

Winning photo of Mr. Ariel Langcauon entitled “Takipsilim na, Bukas Ulit”

Service-driven: Testing and Evaluation Status Report

In commemoration of its roots, AMTEC also conducted a tree-planting activity in Siniloan, Laguna on August 11. AMTEC planted 45 trees, representing its 45 years in agricultural service. This was followed with a Thanksgiving Mass at the Diocesan Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Los Baños, Laguna.

AMTEC plants trees at Siniloan, Laguna

In the afternoon of August 12, AMTEC prepared a short program to present the Director’s Report for the past years. In her opening remarks, Dr. Rossana Marie C. Amongo, CEAT Dean, expressed that she is one with AMTEC in its long-term vision to be a sustainable and world-class institution. Dean Amongo also informed the attendees that AMTEC and the CEAT-DO already submitted a proposal for the institutionalization and recognition of AMTEC as the premier testing center and as an official part and parcel of the University.

Dean Amongo delivering the opening remarks for the culminating activity

The wife and son of the first AMTEC Director, the late Prof. Roberto Bautista Sr., attended the celebration to commemorate his contributions for the institutionalization of AMTEC. Mr. Roberto Bautista Jr. shared the story of how his father fought to fund the establishment of the box-like AMTEC building.

Previous directors of AMTEC, Dr. Delfin Suministrado and Dr. Aurelio Delos Reyes, also graced the event with their presence and well-meaning sentiments for AMTEC. Both Dr. Suministrado and Dr. Delos Reyes commended the growth of AMTEC in terms of projects, manpower, and resources.

It was under the leadership of both directors that the AFMech Law of 2013 was crafted and eventually implemented. This policy led other government agencies to see the relevance of AMTEC in the agricultural sphere. As such, efforts were made to strengthen the institution and allocate funding for its continued operation. In his sentiment, Dr. Delos Reyes expressed that AMTEC shall be given plantilla positions to assure the institution’s sustainability and service to its stakeholders.

Previous AMTEC directors (L-R: Mr. Roberto Bautista Jr. (to represent the late Prof. Roberto Bautista Sr.), Dr. Isagani Sarmiento, Dr. Delfin Suministrado, Dr. Aurelio Delos Reyes, and Dr. Arthur Fajardo) 

AMTEC Now and In the Future

In the Director’s Report, Dr. Fajardo detailed the current initiatives and future plans for AMTEC. At present, the center has four (4) ongoing projects with the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE) and Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).

Dr. Arthur Fajardo delivering the AMTEC Director’s Report

Its testing and evaluation activities also increased from more than 200 applications in 2015 to approximately 700 applications in the recent years due to the implementation of the AFMech Law. AMTEC has also crafted around 300 Philippine National Standards (PNS) before standards development was officially mandated to the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS) in 2013.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, AMTEC also took steps to digitalize its service processes and information dissemination efforts. AMTEC intensifies its initiatives for technical bulletins and trainings to continuously mobilize agricultural sectors towards mechanization.

Dr. Fajardo laid out his plans, which were upon recommendation of the AMTEC Advisory Board: “Right now, our focus for AMTEC is to render the utmost quality service and to ensure the institution’s sustainability. Our primary target is on 2Ps: our people and our processes. We are already taking the steps towards digital transformation and service expansion.”

As for the first target (people), Dr. Fajardo calls for the conferment of plantilla positions for the sustainability of AMTEC. Currently, AMTEC only has one permanent and two casual positions. He also envisioned tailor-fit trainings for the test engineers and skilled workers of AMTEC to ensure world-class quality service to stakeholders.

For the second target (processes), he plans to fast-track its application for ISO 17025: Testing and Collaboration Laboratories. The institution also aims for the enhancement of testing methodologies and standards development. In the coming months, AMTEC plans to hold its first ever Supplier’s Forum to consult and consider the recommendations of the private agricultural sector for service expansion.

Engr. Romulo Eusebio, AMTEC’s Test Engineer for more than 30 years, expressed his vision for AMTEC in the coming years in his closing remarks. He said, “I’ve been with AMTEC for the longest time. I’ve seen it grow and I’m excited for what still lies ahead for AMTEC. In our pursuit towards service and excellence, let us not forget that, at the end of the day, AMTEC is still for our grassroots sectors – our farmers and fisherfolks. Let us aid our farmers from manual to mechanized agricultural practices.”