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US and PH concur to form a ministerial team on agricultural cooperation.

According to Malacanang, the Philippines, and the US have decided to expand their agricultural collaboration to increase food security, efficiency, and research and development in the industry.

During a meeting on Monday (Washington, D.C. time), President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and representatives from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) led by Secretary Thomas Vilsack agreed to establish a ministerial team on agricultural cooperation.

At the meeting, Marcos also aimed to advance initiatives to build capacity for the nation’s biotechnology agenda and mutually beneficial agreements to support agriculture research for development.

Marcos stated that he sought to expand the US market for Philippine agricultural products.

The USDA anticipated improved information exchange between the US and the Philippines and ongoing collaboration on agricultural innovation systems.

A USDA official said, “(We’re) excited about an initiative where a number of your professors… will be traveling to the United States, will be exposed to our university system… so they, in turn, take it back to the Philippines.”

Marcos emphasized the need to strengthen Philippine agriculture by pointing out that the coronavirus illness (Covid-19) epidemic has exposed the “weaknesses” of the sector.

“We still keep coming back to agriculture, and we cannot do all of the things that we would like to do for our economy if our agriculture — there are agricultural system — is not strengthened,” he said. “As we had started to plan our way out of the pandemic economy, even the financial experts, we would talk about the economy; we would talk about the more strictly financial aspects of the developing economy.

Additionally, he expressed the hope that the upcoming Food Security Dialogue on May 5 will strengthen national efforts to develop effective and efficient supply chains, export opportunities, and value chains for agricultural commodities.

The president stated that the objective is to boost agricultural R&D, focusing on biotechnology institutes, geospatial databases, climate-proof facilities, and information services.

Marcos states, “This is a crucial component of the transformation of our society and of our economy for the post-pandemic world.”

Speaker of the House Martin Romualdez, Secretary of Trade Alfredo Pascual, Secretary of Energy Raphael Lotilla, Secretary of the Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Secretary of Communications Cheloy Garafil, and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez attended the meeting with the president.

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