3 September 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a virtual meeting between the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) and 25 companies of the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) in the evening of 2 Sept 2020 in Washington, D.C. and morning of 3 September in Manila, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar and USABC Chairman, President and CEO Alex Feldman signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on partnerships to strengthen agricultural cooperation in the Philippines.
The MOU aims to determine agricultural priorities in the Philippines in which the participants share mutual interests and will cooperate to create an environment that fosters collaboration and regular communication between the member companies of the Council’s Food and Agriculture Committee and the Department of Agriculture, reports Dr. Josyline C. Javelosa, Philippine Agriculture Attaché in United States.
These priorities include collaboration to:
- Increase two-way agricultural trade, encouraging agricultural investment and enabling inclusive growth between the Philippines and the USA;
- Enhance public information-sharing of policies, regulations and potential investment opportunities in both countries regarding agricultural trade and investment, including industry development programs, research and development (R&D) programs, science-based decision making, international approaches to transparency, standards-setting, and agriculture regulations and policies, among others, such as through knowledge management and information and communications technology (ICT) cooperative programs;
- Enhance the U.S. – Philippines agricultural economic relationship and promote the role of international trade and foreign investment in improving food security and strengthening the role of agricultural sector as an engine of growth in the broader economy; and
- Leverage the digital transformation and support the promulgation of new technologies supporting agriculture, including but not limited to ICT, data analysis, biotechnologies, farm or agriculture mechanization, and other climate smart technologies to address food security and climate change simultaneously.
Sixteen (16) member Food and Agriculture companies identified in the MOU as USABC participants are Abbott, Archer Daniel’s Midland, Bayer, Cargill, Coca-Cola, Corteva Agriscience, Elanco Animal Health, Herbalife Nutrition, John Deere, MSD Animal Health, Nestle Purina, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, Scoular, Tyson, and Yum! Brands.
Identified cooperation areas are on livestock production and animal health, agricultural trading and investment, plant science, agricultural technology and digital agriculture, food safety, inclusive business and sustainability.
“Agriculture can be the backbone of the Philippine economy – let’s invest in it,” Secretary Dar remarked. The Secretary encouraged the USABC member economies to invest in Philippine agriculture and welcomed the dialogue on how USABC companies can further work with the Philippine government in building back a more resilient food system for improved livelihoods, nutrition and health as the world recovers from COVID-19. Secretary Dar also invited the American companies to support acceleration of the Philippines’ digital transformation to help generate new revenue streams and improve the livelihoods of rural communities.
This is after the Secretary delivered a presentation showing the effects of COVID-19 on Philippine agriculture and the DA’s plan to survive, reboot and grow for socio-economic recovery and resiliency following a Food Security Framework employing 5 strategies, namely farm consolidation, modernization, industrialization, export promotion and infrastructure development.
Mr. Feldman said that USABC is looking forward to working with the DA and is eager to transform the MOU to MO ‘Do’s.
Implementation of the MOU will be through a Joint Working Group (JWG) to be co-led by a DA Representative and the Chairperson of the USABC’s Food and Agriculture Committee. Secretary Dar has designated Mr. Rodolfo Vicerra, DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Research and Project Development to be the DA representative to co-lead this JWG with the representative of Elanco.
The Philippine Embassy representatives congratulated DA and USABC for the pioneering virtual MOU signing and expressed high hopes that this partnership will serve as a means to mutually benefit the Filipino people and American businesses. This engagement between Secretary Dar and USABC is part of USABC’s 2020 Senior Executives Business Mission meetings with the Philippines from 1 to 4 September. The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. was represented in the meeting by Deputy Chief of Mission Renato Villa, Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline Javelosa and Economic Officer Katrina Borja-Martin. Agriculture Counselor Morgan Hass and Agriculture Attaché Ryan Bedford also joined the meeting from the US Embassy in Manila.