THE Philippines and Papua New Guinea have forged an agreement to bolster cooperation on agriculture development, including the production of rice, coconut and coffee.
The Memorandum of Agreement on Agricultural Cooperation aims to “promote mutual consultations, exchanges on technical assistance, and joint research on specific areas of agriculture.”
The latest landmark bilateral agreement was signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Papua New Guinea Agriculture and Livestock Minister Benny Allan during President Duterte’s visit to Papua New Guinea.
Under the new accord, the two countries would cooperate on the production of rice and grains, industrial crops such as coconut, cocoa, coffee, rubber and palm oil, and horticultural crops and spices.
Other areas of cooperation are aquaculture and inland fish farming; post-harvest development; livestock breeding; training on bio-security mechanisms and systems for monitoring; development of agri-businesses and technical training for establishment of agri-business resource centers.
The two nations will also work together on the development of irrigation facilities for large rice scale production, renovation and establishment of abattoirs as well as and research, education and training on agriculture.
“The MOA also includes the exchange of professionals, scientists, technicians and farmers for study and training,” the Palace said.
“Exchanges in genetic materials, technologies, and scientific and technical information also form part of the scope of the MOA,” it added.
The agreement was signed after Piñol and other Cabinet members visited the Philippines-Papua New Guinea Rice Demonstration Farm located inside Pacific Adventist University.
The 25-hectare plantation seeks to establish a model seed farm that can be a source of certified rice seeds for farmers in the Pacific Island nation. The demo plantation was part of a rice cooperation pact between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea that sent 19 Filipino farm technicians and tax-free supplies and equipment to Port Moresby.
The President urged Papua New Guinea to take care of their farmlands and guard against the entry of “big money” from companies.
President Duterte has said that the Philippines will help in the development of Papua New Guinea by establishing schools and supporting livelihood projects in the southwestern Pacific nation.
“We need to develop and develop well Papua New Guinea. We are willing to help,” Duterte said in a speech before the Filipino community in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, where he attended the 26th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
Duterte promised to build schools, provide vocational skills training and send Filipino teachers to help in the education of young people of Papua New Guinea.
He said the country and its people have been “very kind” to Filipinos.
“I have heard most of our countrymen are treated well and respected,” he said.
Duterte is the first Philippine leader to visit Papua New Guinea, a former Australian colony which hosts around 40,000 Filipinos and over 200 Philippine companies, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“The Philippines provides important services to the people of PNG [Papua New Guinea]. Foremost of which is agricultural expertise, assisting local rice growers to improve yields and to maximize efficiency,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said.
The President hosted Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Malacañang on May 16, which culminated in the signing of the agriculture cooperation agreement aimed at boosting food security in both countries.
Duterte and O’Neill will be meeting again this weekend at the APEC meetings.