PHL, India eye stronger ties to boost food production, higher income for farmers, balanced trade

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THE governments of the Philippines, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the republic of India, have both agreed to strengthen their ties in the field of agriculture.

The partnership between the two governments, known for their strengths in the field of agriculture, were affirmed by the Philippines’ DA Secretary William Dar and India Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The tieup between the Philippines and India seek to strengthen technical cooperation and market access to sustainably increase food production for both countries, provide Filipino and Indian farmers with higher income, and achieve a more balanced trade of goods.

The bilateral meeting was hosted by Minister Tomar with Secretary Dar and the members of the Philippine delegation in attendance at the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi, on April 21, 2022.

Dar said the Philippines will benefit greatly from India being the world’s third-ranking rice producer and exporter, and a leader in the development and commercialization of natural and biological farm inputs.

As the prices of chemical fertilizer in the world market continue to skyrocket, compounded by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Dar said the Philippines is compelled to use a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers.

He also told Minister Tomar that the Philippines would promote more quality export products to India to attain a more balanced trade. Last year alone, India exported US$ 450-million worth of products to the Philippines, while buying a measly US$50-million worth of Filipino goods.

Tomar and Dar also agreed to renew agricultural cooperation with the creation of a joint technical working group composed of experts from both countries. The group will be tasked to scale up existing partnership and explore new areas of collaboration, particularly in aquaculture and marine, renewable energy, risk reduction management, and natural and biological farm inputs. The Philippines-India technical working group will be formed soonest and then schedule a series of meetings in the next two months.

Tomar pledged to support initiatives to level up Philippine agriculture through the installation of various science-backed projects including the satellite-based insurance system and soil and water management.

He has already instructed Indian Council for Agricultural Research Director General Trilochan Mohapatra to extend assistance and oversee that the collaborations will be carried out in partnership with the DA’s key technical agencies such as the Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Animal Industry, Soil and Water Management, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, among others.

The Indian agriculture minister also thanked Dar for visiting India once again after spending 15 years in Hyderabad as the Director-General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 2000 to 2014.

Secretary Dar was in New Delhi for the BioAg Asia 2022, a two-day forum on bio-control and bio-stimulant strategies, as well as research and technology of various groups not only in Asia but the rest of the world, including the Philippines. He chaired two panel discussions on Policy and Business Environment in Major Asian Countries and Bio Agriculture – Global Perspectives and Asian Markets.

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