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PIA Press Release

DA partners with DFA, DTI and EDC to promote agri exports

Manila (12 February) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has partnered with the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and of Foreign Affairs (DFA) plus a private sector-led council in promoting agricultural and fishery products overseas in a bid to find new markets abroad for indigenous farm goods and raise the incomes of Filipino exporters and growers.

Under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) forged by the three departments and the private-sector led Export Development Council (EDC), these four entities agreed to pool their resources and efforts to expand existing markets and tap new ones for Philippine farm exports through, among others, the exchange of information pertaining to production, export and investment opportunities, market access issues, and expertise in promoting agri-fishery products.

This agriculture-friendly agreement was signed yesterday morning in Malacanang by Secretaries Arthur Yap of the DA, Alberto Romulo of the DFA, Peter Favila of the DTI and business leader Sergio Ortiz-Luis of the EDC. Ortiz-Luis is also the president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) and chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This agreement was witnessed by Undersecretaries Thomas G. Aquino of the DTI, Edsel T. Custodio of the DFA and Bernadette Romulo Puyat of the DA.

This MOA came on the heels of last month's move by the DA to similarly team up with two other government agencies—the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—in developing the aquaculture subsector to ensure its sustainability and mitigating the negative impact of its utilization on the environment.

Yap said the new MOA with the DTI, DFA and EDC covers priority categories in the agri-fishery sector such as fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, marine products, meat products, root crops, natural fiber, horticulture, plantation crops, wood products, herbal products, and natural ingredients.

The three Departments and the EDC agreed under the MOA to hold regular consultative meetings with the stakeholders, undertake market research on potential export and investment opportunities, and identify and negotiate possible sources of funds and technical assistance for the development of the agri-fishery sector.

These signatory-entities also agreed to set up a technical committee that will craft the criteria for projects covered by the agreement and develop an annual work program to be approved and monitored by the EDC, which will serve as the oversight body tasked to monitor the activities of the three Departments.

The DA's aggressive efforts to strengthen existing export markets and tap new ones for agricultural products is in step with its Five-Pillar program, which covers higher public spending on (1) infrastructure, (2) technology and extension services, and (3) postharvest and storage facilities; and (4) expanding access to rural credit, and (5) opening new markets here and overseas for Philippine agro-fishery products.

Yap said this program to sustain and accelerate farm growth and raise the profitability of agriculture for its small stakeholders is in compliance with the mandate by President Arroyo under her Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan for the DA to focus on attaining food security and creating jobs, especially in the countryside.

Last Jan. 31, the DA, DENR, and DILG signed Joint Administrative Order No. 1 that aims to harness the resources of their respective agencies to effectively carry out guidelines and enforce laws that will check against aquatic pollution and raise public awareness over the need to ensure the safe and satisfactory conditions of waters in aquaculture areas through proper waste management and sustainable practices.

DA Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero and DENR Director Julian Amador signed the agreement on behalf of their respective Departments at the Imperial Suites in Quezon City.

Philippine agriculture grew 4.68% in 2007, hitting the government's original forecast of a 4%-5% full-year expansion range with key subsectors posting ample or higher-than-expected yields.

The volume of production for agriculture and fisheries combined went up 4.68% in 2007, leading to a year-on-year incremental increase in value to P971-8 billion at current prices, according to the DA's Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).

Yap said that President Arroyo's recent order for a "surge" in infrastructure buildup will help sustain farm growth this year because it will mean much higher public investments in, among others, irrigation works and postharvest facilities, which are key elements of the DA's five-point growth agenda. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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