Washington wants to expand agricultural trade ties with PHL

Washington is “continuously” looking for ways to expand agricultural trade between the United States and the Philippines, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said on Wednesday.

“There are certain niches that get larger each year. Each year you see a different area or sector of the agricultural market expand,” Goldberg told reporters on the sidelines of a trade reception, dubbed as Pulses: The Superfood of 2016.

The trade reception kicked off the joint effort of US and Philippine stakeholders in promoting pulses.

The 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses to emphasize the role of pulses—dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas—in feeding the world and to encourage connections throughout the food chain among governments private organizations  and all other relevant stakeholders.

Goldberg noted that the Philippines is an “important” market for American producers. Bilateral trade in goods last year amounted to nearly $18 billion in 2015, according to figures from the US Census Bureau.

“The Philippines is our ninth-or 10th-largest market for agricultural goods, [while] the US is the No. 1 one market for Philippine agricultural products,” he said.

US producers export soy, pork and chicken meat to the Philippines, while the main export of the Philippines to the US is coconut oil.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Manila lauded the implementation of two USDA-funded projects in Mindanao.

Jeffrey Albanese, FAS’s agricultural attaché in the Philippines, said farmers and farmworkers in Mindanao have been “cooperative” in implementing the Mindanao Productivity in Agricultural Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) and the Philippine Cold Chain Project (PCCP).

“We’ve seen success in both projects. Farmers and producers are incorporating the techniques [and best practices] that our implementing partners are [teaching them],” Albanese said.

The two projects, with a combined total project cost of approximately $20 million, are the only active food aid and development projects under the USDA Food for Progress in the Philippines, he added.

Albanese said MinPACT, which is implemented by the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance, aims to increase the production and quality of coffee, cacao and coconut in the region.

Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, FAS said, implements the PCCP, which seeks to develop cold chain food-handling systems, such as the proper refrigeration of meat, and the best practices in slaughterhouse management.



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