THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

Phl joins ASEAN’s cohesive Covid-19 response on agri and food

Author: DA Communications Group | 22 October 2020

Ministers of agriculture and forestry from 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) met to discuss their response and strategies to assuage the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and zero in specific areas of cooperation to support post-pandemic recovery efforts.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the Philippine delegation during the 42nd Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) on October 21, 2020. This year’s AMAF was hosted by the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In his message, delivered through a video conference, Secretary Dar underscored the various recovery efforts and interventions of the Philippine government to keep the gears of food supply chain moving within and across borders.

“Since the start of the community quarantine in March 2020, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been implementing the Plant, Plant, Plant Program, which is part of the DA’s Food Security Development Framework. It is an all-encompassing program for crops, livestock, poultry, and fisheries with the aim of attaining a food-secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk,” he said.

During the meeting, Secretary Dar reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to work along with other ASEAN member states in the region’s cohesive response to the pandemic.

“In the name of solidarity and unity, the Philippines expresses its commitment in keeping the ASEAN market open for trade and investment; continuing efforts to ensure stable and sustainable food sources; and reaffirming support to food safety through evidence-based food safety measures in the region,” Secretary Dar said.

Secretary Dar also graced the 20th  AMAF Plus Three (AMAF +3) Meeting wherein he reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment with China, Japan, and Korea to utilize existing mechanisms to move forward cooperation particularly on food security.

He also manifested the country’s support to the International Rice Research institute’s continued constructive engagement with the ASEAN and Plus Three rice-producing countries on its ASEAN RiceNet project.

In the 6th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting in Agriculture and Forestry (AIMMAF), Secretary Dar underscored the importance of digital technology as an asset to every country’s socio-economic recovery effort amidst the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“India being a giant in digital innovation, technology and development, we call on their support to build up our region’s resilience in digital innovation and strengthen cooperation on digital platforms for easy access of goods, services and information, which is critical under this ‘new normal’ situation,” he said.

He also mentioned that despite the pandemic, causing social paralysis and economic slowdown to the country and the world, the Philippine agriculture remains resilient, even growing a quite surprising 1.6 percent during the second quarter and a 16 percent increase in rice production in the third quarter.

The DA chief called on the ASEAN to remain open, inclusive, transparent, and outward-looking and reinforce strategic trust and seek to address common challenges.

“Let us formulate economic recovery plans with novel measures as we try to cope with the ‘new normal’ and reaffirm ASEAN’s central role to ensure that it will continue to be an integral component of the evolving regional landscape,” he concluded.

The AMAF and related ministerial meetings are annually-held events that serve as a venue to consider, review and approve policies, strategies, and action programs on food, agriculture and forestry. The first AMAF was held in 1979 in the Philippines. ### (Rita dela Cruz, DA-StratComms)

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