By Roy Mabasa
A visiting ranking official of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday led the launch of a new Food for Progress project focused on strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulatory systems in the Philippines.
USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney met with Philippine Agriculture Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra and Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo to discuss the four-year project, which will be funded with the proceeds of donated US agricultural commodities sold in the Philippine market.
According to a media handout from the US Embassy in Manila, the most recent Food for Progress project in the Philippines used US soybean meal as the donated commodity.
“This project aims to strengthen Philippine food security by delivering their consumers and agribusiness access to safe, affordable, and nutritious foods and feedstuffs through an improved regulatory framework based on risk-based principles and streamlined processes that ultimately enhance livelihoods while increasing opportunities for US-Philippine trade,” Mckinney said during the launching.
For his part, Undersecretary Vicerra said the Department of Agriculture welcomes the opportunity to enhance the capacity of its regulatory agencies in ensuring that food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary concerns are addressed alongside the flow of trade.
Health Undersecretary Domingo, meanwhile, expressed optimism that the collaboration brought about by this project will strengthen the regulatory function capacity of the Philippines Food and Drug Administration.
“This will enable the agency to develop a risk-based regulatory system that will promote effective and efficient outcomes,” Domingo said.
A USDA program, the Food for Progress partners with developing countries and emerging democracies committed to introducing and expanding free enterprise in the agricultural sector.
The US government has selected Winrock International through a competitive award process to implement the project with an estimated $8.5 million operating budget.
The USDA said the project will pursue activities to strengthen Philippine regulatory agencies’ SPS systems through the adoption of risk-based and international standards to facilitate agricultural trade.