Philippines preparing proposal to Japan to mechanize farm sector: Pinol
The Philippine government is preparing a proposal seeking Japan's help to mechanize its agriculture sector in time for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in January next year, an official said on Tuesday.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol told reporters that Abe is to undertake an official visit to Manila starting January 16.
He said a technical working group has been created to prepare the project, which the Department of Agriculture would present to Japan.
"That's why we're fast-tracking the Philippine Agricultural Modernization Program because we want to present the draft to Prime Minister Abe," Pinol said.
Since it would take time before the government could finalize the program as it has to pass the Investment Coordinating Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority, Pinol said what could be signed during Abe's visit is a memorandum of understanding.
Pinol said the government is waiting for Japan’s reply on the request for a "uniform" and lower tariffs of Philippine pineapple and banana exports.
He noted that during the off season in Japan, the tariff imposed on Philippine fruits was about 8 percent, but during winter months, it becomes around 18 percent.
Asked of the initial feedback from Japan regarding the Philippine request, Pinol said, "they were receptive to the idea."
Pinol said the possibility of Japan helping the "mechanization" of the Philippine agriculture sector was discussed during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Japan in October.
He said when his office consulted stakeholders, they brought up the possibility of getting machines, such as tractors and post harvest facilities from Japan.
The DA is eyeing about P900 million for the project, which will be pilot tested in 10 areas, with 1,000 hectare per area.
"But they (Japan) said they can increase that (amount) depending on the request of the Philippine government," Pinol said.
Pinol said Vietnamese farmers use tractors, while in the Philippines, only about 25 percent of farmers use machines, with the rest relying on carabaos to till the land..
He said in Vietnam, its post harvest losses are about six percent, while in the Philippines, the losses were at 16 percent due to lack of post-harvest facilities. Celerina Monte/ DMS