December 1, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to secure soft loans from Japan to bump up the food security programs under the two countries’ bilateral cooperation.
Representatives of the Embassy of Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), led by Economic Minister Nihei Daisuke and First Secretary and Agriculture Attache Tachikawa Jumpei, met with the DA to identify key areas of agricultural cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.
During the meeting, DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban expressed the Philippines’ interest in seeking financial assistance from Japan.
This is either through soft loans or the Japan Food Security Project for Underprivileged Farmers (formerly called the 2KR Program) to help support the agency’s programs towards food security.
Meanwhile, the Japanese envoys said their government is conducting an assistance program for procuring chemical fertilizers and facilitating fertilizer management in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO).
The DA also said the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Japan is expected to benefit agricultural projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by helping provide farm-to-market roads, communal irrigation systems, and other initiatives.
Initial discussions were made on the rollout of Japan’s satellite technology for the surveillance and detection of banana diseases, such as Fusarium wilt, which is currently posing a threat to the Philippine banana industry.
The DA said a more intensive discussion on areas of agricultural cooperation between the two countries is set to take place when President Marcos visits Japan next year.
This year, the Japanese government, through JICA, began a five-year initiative to help the Philippines improve the vegetable value chain in the Philippines and increase farmers’ income as part of improving food security in the country.
The five-year initiative is part of the Project for Market-Driven Enhancement of Vegetable Value Chain in the Philippines signed in October last year.
The five-year project for highland and lowland vegetables will also study the gaps in the country’s vegetable supply chain network and address food security.
The project aims to come up with a vegetable value chain roadmap to identify major bottlenecks, provide solutions, and distinguish the roles of each stakeholder along the value chain.
The agriculture sector contributes a tenth to the overall economy of the Philippines.
Since the 1960s, JICA has supported the farm sector through building basic rural infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities, and irrigation systems, in agrarian reform communities.