By Genalyn Kabiling
PORT MORESBY – The Philippines and Papua New Guinea have forged a landmark 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 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 pact, 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.
“Thank you for accommodating us in giving away lands where we can plant,” the President said before an assembly of Filipinos.
The President urged Papua New Guinea to take care of their farmlands and guard against the entry of “big money” from companies.
“You know Governor, most of the lands in the Philippines are not food crop. There are no more lands where we can plant to eat the palay. It’s overtaken by multinationals,” he said.
“Be careful about that. Do not — you may but do not allow the encroachment of multinationals because at the end of the day, what you would get is the salary of your people and yet the bulk — it’s multinational, the bulk of the money goes to the company and goes everywhere” he said.
“So what you get you even buy and also the salary is just the employment. So just do not allow big money to enter. You take time to develop,” he added.
Also present in the farm visit were Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano.