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Textual: análisis del medio rural latinoamericano

versão On-line ISSN 2395-9177versão impressa ISSN 0185-9439

Textual anál. medio rural latinoam.  no.72 Chapingo Jul./Dez. 2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.5154/r.textual.2017.72.001 

Economics and public policies

Analysis of the certification process of the Certification Agency of Implements and Agricultural Machinery (OCIMA) in México

Alma V. Ayala Garay2  * 
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3286-0788

Gustavo Almaguer Vargas1 

Bertha S. Larqué Saavedra2 

Juan O. Gutiérrez Martínez2 

Arely del Rocio Ireta-Paredes3 

1Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (UACh). Departamento de Fitotecnia. Carretera México-Texcoco km 38.5, Chapingo, México. C.P. 56230. almaguervargas@hotmail.com

2Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP). Km 13.5 de la Carretera los Reyes-Texcoco, Coatlinchán, Texcoco, Estado de México. C. P. 56250. larque.bertha@inifap.gob.mx

3Universidad Interserrana del Estado de Puebla-Ahuacatlán. Los Llanos Km 1 San Andrés Tlayehualancingo, Ahuacatlán. Puebla. C. P. 73330. arely8710@hotmail.com

Abstract:

The Agricultural Machinery and Implementing Certification Agency (OCIMA) is responsible for the issuance of certificates of agricultural machinery and equipment in Mexico. The objective of this study is to analyze the results of the OCIMA certification process since its operation (2006) to strengthen the Agency and diversify the services it offers. During July-September 2017, a total of 45 interviews were applied to members of the Steering Committee, the Review Committee and users of the service From the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses ant Threats), the dependence of the Agency on the operating rules issued by SAGARPA to stay in the certification market stands out as a threat. It was detected that the detailed results of the tests performed on the tractors during the certification are not available to the end users; if they were know by the producer, he would have an overview of the equipment´s functionality and contribute to his choice. It is necessary that the agricultural producers requires that the machinery and agricultural implements are certified. The OCIMA must take advantage of being the sole certifier of agricultural products in Latin America and extend its market, given the validity of its accreditation at an international level.

Keywords: OCIMA certification; SWOT matrix; non-mechanized surface

Introduction

According to the National Agricultural Survey carried out by the Instituto de Estadística y Geografía (ENA-INEGI, 2014), there were 3,286,465 production units in Mexico in 2014, of which 55 % (1,554,498) used a tractor in their agricultural activities and only 13.1% had one of their own; that is, there were 203,639 tractors, of which 41.7 % were already over 15 years old (INEGI, 2014). The importance of having equipped production units in Mexico lies in the fact that, according to the FAO, mechanization facilitates and reduces heavy work, alleviates labor shortages, improves productivity and the timeliness of agricultural operations, improves the efficient use of resources, strengthens access to markets and contributes to the mitigation of climate-related threats (FAO, 2018). Ulloa (1989) mentions that agricultural mechanization is one of the factors that contributes to improving productivity in agricultural activities. Mechanization makes it possible to improve the efficiency of agricultural work and to produce more and better products, through the use of tools and machines (manual, animal traction or motorized) with the least time, cost and physical effort possible; the tractor is an example of this mechanization.

In order to promote the development of the Mexican countryside through agricul tural mechanization, the federal and state governments launched various support programs aimed at the capitalization and regional integration of producers (Sánchez-Hernández, et al., 2014: 500). In the operating rules issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA for its initials in Spanish), in Section II dealing with incentives to purchase machinery and equipment, article 72 mentions improv ing the productivity of Rural Agricultural Economic Units through the acquisition and use of machinery and equipment, and article 74 specifies that to obtain the incentive all power tillers must be certified by the Certification Agency for Agricultural Implements and Machinery (OCIMA), as well as tractors with 29.8-93.2 kW at power take-off (PTO) (DOF, 2017). OCIMA is responsible for carrying out the procedures required for issuing certificates for agricultural machinery and equipment. The certificate supports the credibility and transparency of the manufacturing processes and after-sales service of agricultural machinery in the country, since an evaluation process is carried out to ensure compliance with the requirements based on Mexican Product Standards (NMX) and Quality Management Systems. The Agency began certifying in 2005 and to date certificates have been issued for imported and domestic products of companies that have requested the service, mainly for tractors, power tillers, sprayers and seeders. SAGARPA, through its production support program, which is based on the operating rules it issues annually, has promoted the purchase of tractors and agricultural implements by providing economic resources in an effort to solve the problem of a lack of liquidity in the purchase of agricultural machinery (Ayala, Audelo, Aragón, & Mendoza, 2010: 5).

Validation of agricultural machinery and implements around the world is done in recognized laboratories such as the University of Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory in the US, the Agricultural Mechanics Station (EMA for its initials in Spanish) laboratory in Spain, and the DLG Test Center in Gross-Umstadt, Germany. At the DLG facility, tests are carried out on agricultural machinery and equipment and reports are provided to the public, which serve as a guide for farmers to make decisions about what machinery and equipment they will acquire. The test methods and profiles are practice-oriented, manufacturer-independent, based on state-of-the-art measurement techniques and test equipment and take into account international norms and standards (DLG, 2017). The results of tests carried out on machinery sold by the CASE-IH/Steyr, John Deere, Massey Ferguson, New Holland and other brands are available to the public via the Internet. The reports contain information on the engine, transmission, PTO, chassis, hydraulics, specific settings and the conditions under which the test is conducted with respect to axle load and front and rear tire pressure, in addition to an exhaustive analysis of dynamometer operation in standard port with full load and partial load, varying from 90 to 60 % nominal speed. This shows the specific and absolute fuel consumption behavior, as well as that of urea (DLG, 2017). In Mexico, within the certification process, three tests are carried out on agricultural tractors: assessment of the cab and protective frames of agricultural and forestry tractors, determination of power at PTO and determination of hydraulic lift force at three-point hitch. Each test is based on standards NMX-O-181-SCFI-2003, NMX-O-169- SCFI-2002, and NMX-O-207-SCFI-2004, respectively. The report published by OCIMA on the Internet (INIFAP, 2017) is about the tractors that passed the certification process and consists of the result of maximum power certified at PTO (kW) and lift capacity at 610 mm (corrected value) (N). This shows the difference in access to information in the German and Mexican markets on the operation of tractors under certain conditions and their manufacture. While the report published by the DLG is very specific, the OCIMA one only shows two data; moreover, there is no information about the tractor’s overall operation, or about the fuel it consumes or the power variations based on nominal speed, or information about the hydraulic system, etc.

As a result of the OCIMA certification process and the fact that SAGARPA requires companies to obtain the certificate in order for the former to provide financial support to producers for the purchase of tractors and power tillers, the need arises for a study to analyze the results of the OCIMA certification process since its inception in 2006 in order to strengthen the Agency and diversify the services it offers. It is herein hypothesized that there are other activities that could allow OCIMA to expand the coverage of the services it offers, even if it were excluded from SAGARPA’s operating rules, given the high quality of its services.

Materials and methods

During the months of July to September 2017, interviews were conducted with 45 key OCIMA-related actors who participate in the Agency’s Committees, mainly the Steering Committee, as well as with the personnel of SAGARPA, COFUPRO (Coordinadora de Fundaciones PRODUCE A. C.), and CNA (Consejo Nacional Agropecuario), AMSDA (Asociación Mexicana de Secretarios de Desarrollo Agropecuario), the Review Committee, and the users who are the manufacturers and distributors of agricultural machinery and implements in Mexico. The topics were about the service provided by OCIMA, the evaluation of the phases during the certification process, customer satisfaction and observations about the staff, process and service received. A questionnaire was sent by e-mail to the users of OCIMA’s certification services, both for agricultural tractors and implements, obtaining their perception thereof through their answers. From this information, the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) matrix was generated both for the Agency and its process for certifying agricultural machinery and implements. It serves to identify important aspects to develop and address, which will contribute to making the organization even more productive and in creasing its market opportunities. Another important phase of the study was the for mation of two analysis panels with members of the Steering Committee and OCIMA staff, where the results obtained from the surveys were presented and conclusions and recommendations were made after an analysis. In addition to the above, the dynamics that have occurred with the process for certifying agricultural machinery and implements in Mexico were documented. Information was also sought from national sources such as SIAP-SAGARPA, INEGI, Secretaría de Economía (SE) - Normas Mexicanas, and international sources such as the FAO and OECD to obtain statistics and documents on agricultural machinery and implements.

Results and discussion

Mechanization situation in Mexico

According to results reported in the 2012 National Agricultural Survey (INEGI, 2012), when asking producers about the main technologies they use in their agricultural activity, the tractor ranks third in the production units with 48.9 %, only after chemical fertilizers and herbicides (INEGI, 2012). Palacios and Ocampo (2012:812) indicate that the use of agricultural machinery corresponds to a technological notion that includes, apart from the specific machine in question, the intensive use of agrochemicals (fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides) and improved seed, all of which implies the assumption of a productive approach based on the search for high agricultural profitability.

In Mexico, for the year 2016, it is reported that 62.5 % of the country’s states have more than 80 % of their area mechanized, among which Zacatecas, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon and Baja California stand out, with an average of 99.6 %. On the other hand, the states with the least mechanized area are Yucatan with 95.5 % and Chiapas with 81.9 %, followed by Quintana Roo with 59.6 % (SIAP-SAGARPA, 2016). The south-southeast geographic region is the area where the largest non-mechanized area is located, equivalent to 3,443.18 hectares. As shown in Figure 1, only 50 % of the states have less than 10 % of their area non-mechanized.

Source: Author-madewith information from SIAP-SAGARPA, 2016.

Figure 1 . Percentage of non-mechanized surface by state, 2016.  

The farm states which devote the greatest percentage of their area to agriculture (INEGI, 2016) also differ in non-mechanized area; for example, Sinaloa has 0.4 % non-mechanized area against Chiapas and Quintana Roo with 81.9 and 59.6 % respectively (Figure 2). The greater non-mechanized area in the southeastern states is attributable to the land devoted to livestock farming there (INEGI, 2016). However, farm states that do not have sufficient agricultural machinery and implements to develop agricultural activities continue to be at a competitive disadvantage compared to states that have access to agricultural machinery such as Sinaloa or Guanajuato. This is explained by the production system employed, since the more intensive the agricultural system is, the more intense the use of the tractor will be (Palacios, & Ocampo, 2012: 823). The type of agriculture carried out in the country’s northern and central states is largely geared to the domestic and international markets.

Source: Author-madewith information from SIAP-SAGARPA, 2016 and INEGI, 2016.

Figure 2.  States that dedícate their Surface mainly to agricultura and percentage of non-mechanized area.  

Tractors were introduced into the Mexican countryside as part of the national farm development and modernization policies that have been promoted more dynamically ever since the government of Lázaro Cárdenas (Palacios & Ocampo, 2012: 816; DOF, 2017). The tractor used by the producer must be in accordance with the characteristics of the production units (Sánchez-Hernández et al., 2014: 514 ). At the farm, region and country levels, there must be a harmonious relationship, in terms of work capacity and costs, between the demand for agricultural tractors and machines and their availability (Negrete, Tavares, Tavares, 2013: 62 ).

In Mexico, production units have been supported with federal and state resources for the purchase of tractors, given that the prices of this equipment, in some cases, are unaffordable, especially for small and medium-sized producers; for example, the price of a tractor in 2015 ranged from $ 355,000.00 to more than one million pesos (SAGARPA, 2015). Ayala, et al. (2010: 5) point out that among the problems faced by Mexican farmers is the lack of liquidity for the purchase of agricultural machinery (the average minimum price per tractor varies from $ 375,000.00 to $ 800,000.00), along with increased fuel costs and hefty tractor operating costs. In order to provide support for the acquisition of a tractor, the Federal Government, since 2005, has asked that they be certified by OCIMA. Figure 3 shows the number of production units that have been supported for the acquisition of a tractor from 1996 to 2016, thereby benefiting producers. It should be noted that according to information from key players, during 2017, tractor sales totaled $ 15,700 in Mexico, with only 45 % supported by government subsidies. The importance of a tractor is that, coupled with the corresponding agricultural implements, it ensures the greatest technical and economic effect, the highest yield, high work quality and minimum labor and resource use per production unit (Negrete et al., 2013: 62 ).

Source: Author-madewith information taken from Ayala Garay et al., (2010: 26) and SAGARPA, 2011-2016.

Figure 3.   Mexico, productions units supported to obtain a tractor.  

Certification of agricultural implements and machinery

The certification process was increased beginning in 2016 from 96 to 134 days, in order to perform the procedures for each stage of the certification process in a timely and appropriate manner. It is important to emphasize that even with this extension in the period, sometimes the manufacturers do not have all the documentation requested, according to the results panel. The users of the certification service pointed out that a problem they notice is a lack of compliance with the timeline given, due to the fact that the testing laboratory on which the Agency depends is the only one of its kind in Mexico. Another problem seen in the results is the time required to certify; service users say these time periods are not met and the Agency always takes longer than stipulated.

To certify a tractor, it must comply with the test methods set out in the following standards: NMX-0-169-SCFI-2002 Agricultural Tractor - Determination of Power at PTO - Test Method; NMX-O-181-SCFI-2003 Agricultural Tractor-Cabs and Protective Frames for Agricultural and Forestry Tractors-Specifications and test method (Static test) and NMX-O-207-SCFI-2004 Agricultural Tractor-Determination of Hydraulic Lift Power and Force at three-point Hitch- Test Method.

In analyzing the process for certifying agricultural machinery and implements in Mexico from January 2015 to date, it was found that OCIMA has been asked to certify 163 versions of different agricultural tractors of different brands. However, of the total number of certified products, 55 % of the versions were rejected in a first ruling due to failures mainly in laboratory tests, so the applicants for certification had to make adjustments or improvements to their product and these had to be submitted to OCIMA so that they could be validated and achieve certification. At the end of the rulings, 141 versions achieved certification, that is to say 87 % of the 163 versions for which a request was made. Forty-three percent of the negative rulings were due to failures detected in the test to determine hydraulic lift power and force at three-point hitch, 35 % in the test of cabs and protective frames of agricultural and forest tractors (safety) and 22 % in the test for determining power at PTO. As of September 2017, there are 77 tractor models with a valid certificate equivalent to 141 versions, with a maximum power at PTO varying from 27.0 to 96.3 kW and a hydraulic lift capacity at 610 mm from 7.75 to 36.25 kN.

OCIMA is accredited by the Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA for its initials in Spanish) as a Product Certification Agency under standard NMX-EC-17065- IMNC-2014 ISO/IEC 17065:2012, a fact that supports it as a certifying body vis-à-vis manufacturers, distributors and marketers of agricultural implements and machinery; in addition, this certification is valid not only nationally, but also internationally.

Ocima certification and analysis process

In order to obtain information on OCIMA and the certification process, interviews were conducted with the members of the Steering Committee and the Review Committee. From that information, the SWOT matrix was generated for the certification process (Table 1).

Table 1 SWOT matrix of the process of certification of machinery and agricultural implements of the OCIMA. 

Strengths Opportunities
F1. Products marketed in Mexico are validated by certifying that they are of good quality and comply with standards NMX-O-169-SCFI-2002, NMX-O-181-SCFI-2003 and NMX-O-207-SCFI-2004 O1. Small business manufacturers of agricultural implements
F2. Sole certifying Agency for agricultural machinery and implements in Mexico and Latin America, with already 23 years of experience O2. Follow-up on companies that have certified agricultural machinery and implements
F3. The competence of its technical staff, auditors and their continuous updating O3. Assimilation of new valid international criteria. Development as a training center
F4. It has EMA accreditation, valid at international level O4. Certify emissions test on tractors and power tillers
Weaknesses Threats
D1. Bureaucratic, rigid process D2. Time of 134 days required in the A1 certification process D3. Response times of the Agency in the documentary review D4. The laboratory service for testing is overloaded D5. The certification process lacks the tractor drawbar test specified in standard NMX-O-203-SCFI-2004 D6. Standards out of date with those of the United States and European countries A1. When government subsidies for certified products disappear, manufacturers no longer seek certification A2. OCIMA depends on government entities, a political component that must be eliminated/ A3. It depends on the operating rules issued by SAGARPA on an annual basis for the certification process A4. Mexican standards are not mandatory

One weakness that stands out in the SWOT matrix is that the certification process lacks the tractor drawbar test, specified in Mexican standard NMX-O-203- SCFI-2004. Customers also highlight the time required for the certification process, saying that 134 days is excessive. One threat is the fact that the Agency depends on SAGARPA’s operating rules to remain in the certification market for agricultural implements and machinery in Mexico. Also as a threat, key actors indicate that the fact OCIMA depends on government entities constitutes a political component that must be eliminated, since for them the performance and strengthening of the Agency as a certifier of agricultural machinery and implements are compromised. As a weakness, both manufacturers and distributors point to and question the standards that underpin the tests performed at OCIMA; however, this shows that there is a lack of knowledge of the scope of the OCIMA tests and the certificate obtained. The certification process has been criticized, mainly by manufacturers, distributors and importers who, although seeking certification, always comment on the procedures for obtaining the certificate, which is valid for three years. The certification process includes a documentary review, in situ review, and also laboratory tests to verify technical issues with which agricultural machinery must comply in accordance with the provisions of Mexican Standards. However, producers do not know whether there is information on the field performance of certified agricultural machinery and implements, or on their gasoline or diesel performance and PTO power, the last of which tells them what implements and machinery they can attach. This shows the need for field tests to measure performance, taking into account Mexico’s physiographic conditions. It is also important to consider the orographic and socio-economic conditions prevailing in the production area (Palacios & Ocampo, 2012: 815). Although federally-subsidized tractors have OCIMA certification, it should be noted that it is not known whether these tractors are suitable for the Mexican countryside, since, given the country’s natural conditions, the treatment of desert soil is different from that of coastal plain soil, as its dynamics are different, as are its physical and social surroundings (Duran, Aguirre, & Charcas, 2002: 309). When buying a piece of equipment, it is important that farmers know its technical characteristics, in order to know if it is suitable for the activities that they intend to carry out; this, in turn, will reduce production costs, contribute to energy savings and reduce the emission of environmentally-harmful polluting elements (Arnal, 2001: 3). In addition, for the equipment to be safe for the producer (Arana, et al., 2010: 597 ), procedures are sought to reduce risks that could affect the operator’s personal safety, which are taken into consideration by the machine manufacturers, as well as the study of work methods and the elimination of the causes of risk, when this is not possible, and the use of protection devices.

The certification process itself standardizes the quality of the products and proves that they are safe for the operator of agricultural machinery and implements. However, from information obtained in this research, it can be seen that there is a lack of knowledge on the part of the manufacturer and distributor of the real scope of the certificate received. The OCIMA certificate is backed by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), which is a global association of accreditation bodies, certification bodies and other organizations engaged in conformity assessment activities in various areas, including management systems, products, services and personnel. The purpose of the IAF (IAF, 2012: 2) is to operate a program for the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies to ensure that the certification of products, processes or services in one region or country could be accepted in other regions or countries. Within the IAF there are Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MLAs); accreditations granted by accreditation body members of the Mutual Recognition Agreement are recognized worldwide based on their equivalent accreditation programs, which reduces costs and adds value to the industry and the consumer (IAF, 2012: 6). The IAF currently has 71 member countries, which declare their common intention to join the Mutual Recognition Agreement and in so doing recognize the equivalence of the accreditations of other members with their own (IAF, 2017). Thus, OCIMA product certification has great added value, as its validity is international, since EMA, which is the body that certified OCIMA, belongs to the Inter American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), which is part of several regional groupings of Accreditation Bodies whose objectives include maintaining recognition of the equivalence of the accreditations of their members through the Mutual Recognition Agreement (IAF, 2017).

Field testing of agricultural implements and machinery

The agricultural and livestock producer, who is the end user of the agricultural machinery and implements, should have at his disposal a comparison of the machinery certified with a scientific approach, validating the technical characteristics they offer and the results that OCIMA has had when testing them. The OCIMA certificate implies an advantage when it comes to the producer’s decision making, as he or she no longer depends only on the information provided by the manufacturer, but can trust in the decision that OCIMA has made (Ayala et al., 2012:849). In Cuba, an evaluation was made to determine which agricultural tractors would best replace those brought from the former USSR; the study considered the possible supply markets, the requirements of the work to be carried out and expected prices, with everything tested under Cuban farming conditions to contribute to its systematic renewal (Castro, Suárez, Campos, & Ríos, 2005:29 ).

It is essential to show more specific results of the tests carried out on the certified tractors, so that producers will have an overview of the tractor’s functionality under certain conditions and in Mexico’s various physiographic regions, thereby helping them to make a better choice among the available tractor options. Negrete, et al. (2013: 61) mention that as a basis for the manufacture and operation of tractors, it should be considered that in each agricultural region, depending on the natural conditions and production technologies used, a specific type of tractor must be used for each agricultural operation. Therefore, it is important to disseminate the laboratory test results as widely as possible, thus contributing to the best possible choice by the producer when reviewing the tractor sup ply market in Mexico and making his or her acquisition.

It is a priority for the Agency to be identified and related to the importance of the certifications it performs for agricultural implements and machinery, so it is necessary to have the support of at least two institutions: SAGARPA can strengthen OCIMA by establishing as a requirement that all agricultural machinery and implements subsidized through federal and state programs be certified by the Agency, and the Ministry of Economy, in turn, can bolster the Agency by requiring that all agricultural machinery and implements entering the country have OCIMA’s certification process to ensure their quality. It is important for farmers to know the importance of purchasing OCIMA-certified agricultural machinery and implements, as they should experience fewer operating problems with them and possibly even avoid a costly investment loss, by being certain that what they are buying is truly what it is claimed to be, in terms of technical and quality matters, by the manufacturer and distributor.

Conclusions

OCIMA should take advantage of the fact that it is the only certifying body for agricultural products in Latin America by extending its market to other countries in this region, given the validity of its certificate at the international level.

The end users of agricultural machinery and implements in Mexico are the farmers themselves, and it is they who must know in depth the technical and quality characteristics of what they acquire, as opposed to being only known by the organizations that group together agricultural and livestock producers such as the Coordinadora de Fundaciones PRODUCE A. C., the Consejo Nacional Agropecuario or the Asociación Mexicana de Secretarios de Desarrollo Agropecuario.

The added value that the certificate issued by OCIMA provides to certified agricultural machinery and implements is access to foreign markets and commercial guidelines for manufacturers and distributors.

The certificate issued by OCIMA must be known by the agricultural producer, who must demand certified agricultural machinery and implements, since this certificate should form part of the import requirements for commercialization in the country.

Farmers must have access to all information resulting from the tests carried out on agricultural machinery and implements during the certification process, as it would provide them with the decision-making elements needed to choose the most appropriate agricultural tractor from the existing market supply.

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Received: December 15, 2017; Accepted: February 28, 2018

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