AGRI PARTNERSHIP. Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban (left) shakes hands with New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Kell as they discussed more agricultural partnerships on Friday (Sept. 16, 2022). Both parties expressed willingness to intensify their coordination on agricultural trade and plan to combat the effects of climate change. (Photo Courtesy: DA)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday discussed plans for more agricultural trade and partnership with New Zealand.

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Kell visited the DA office and met with Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban and tackled plans to improve bilateral ties as well as combat climate change.

“The meeting aims to further strengthen partnership in areas such as market access of high-value products, research, and development, livelihood assistance to local farmers, and other initiatives that will help the agriculture sector generate high-quality products suitable for the export market. The officials also discussed possible collaboration to address climate change,” the DA said.

Panganiban then invited Kell to visit the country’s iconic places, including Guimaras, the “Mango Capital of the Philippines.”

More partnerships

Besides intensifying international cooperation, the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) partnered with private group Jollibee Group of Foundations (JGF) on Thursday to help farmers.

The Department of Agriculture -Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) signs memorandum of understanding with the Jollibee Group of Foundations (JGF) on Thursday (Photo Courtesy: DA)

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the DA-ACPC and JGF agreed to perform six cooperation projects including “loan provision, agro-enterprise training, capacity building for farmers, dissemination of testimonials, and assessments, among others.”

Panganiban said this move will help realize their primary agenda of achieving self-sufficiency in the food supply, under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“I do believe that this project, together with the rest of the projects that we are undertaking in the Department, would be very important to the program of the President in food security,” he said.

Under the signed MOU, both parties are expected to provide farmers with the “right training tools and adequate capital” that will help them increase both production and profit, and give them the opportunity to upskill, as well as help them avoid suffering from low income due to low farmgate prices.

More women in agri

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), the policy-making arm of the DA, meanwhile underscored the role of women in the administration’s thrust to boost Philippine agriculture.

In a recently published study, the PCAF said the government must increase the number of women beneficiaries in the agricultural programs, as well as provide them more seats in the government’s consultation process.

“In PCAF, women can take on leadership roles through our Agricultural and Fishery Councils, challenge the system, and call for better policies that would benefit the rice sector and the entire industry,” PCAF OIC-Executive Director Julieta Opulencia said.

“The guidelines and procedures for the registration of farmers should be revised to ensure that more women farmers are recognized. It is recommended to redesign agriculture training and policy discussions to be more community-based and rotated in the different communities to increase the participation of more home-bound women,” Rice Watch Action Network Executive Director Hazel Tanchuling added.

The Rice Watch Action Network partnered with the PCAF in conducting the study that show that only “41.7 percent of women are registered out of 4.9 million farmers, farmworkers, agri-youth, and fisherfolk” as of October 2021.

The country’s registry of farmers also recorded the fewest female registrants, comprising only 32 percent.

The same study showed that 65 percent of registered farmers in the rice sector alone are men.

The PCAF believes it is high time to include more women in the agriculture industry to ensure the achievement of the administration’s goal for food security. (PNA)