December 22, 2022
Faced with agricultural challenges such as rising food prices and unstable food supply, the current administration has placed a high national priority in ensuring food security, which prompted President Bongbong Marcos to take on the role of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary for now. Under these circumstances, the strong partnership of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and DA to enhance the vegetable value chain in the country is envisioned to contribute to the country's priority to develop its agriculture sector.
In a bid to assist vegetable farmers to achieve higher income, create jobs and mitigate social disparities, JICA and DA implement the technical cooperation project entitled "Project for Market-Driven Enhancement of Vegetable Value Chain in the Philippines".
On 23 December 2022, JICA Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema and DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban signed the Minutes of Meetings to develop the Record of Discussions of the project, which was previously signed in October 2021.
The project commenced its planning phase in early 2022, which covered an in-depth analysis of the vegetable value chain in the country. After close collaboration and discussion among JICA, DA, concerned LGUs and stakeholders during the planning phase, the project framework for its implementation phase was agreed recently.
"I believe that our cooperation to improve the vegetable industry in this beautiful country is very timely, and in line with the priorities of the Marcos Administration. JICA shares the sentiment of President Bongbong Marcos Jr. that a strong economy cannot be achieved without the foundation of a robust agricultural sector. With this vision, JICA aims to continue and expand its long-standing cooperation to this important sector, agriculture," said SAKAMOTO.
"This market-oriented approach is also essential to address the issues related to income generation, job creation, and disparity mitigation among others," he added.
Shortly, Japanese experts are expected to be dispatched to the Philippines to provide technical guidance and share their experiences and know-how for modernized food value chain (FVC). Pilot projects to establish an inclusive FVC model will be implemented in target areas in Benguet, Quezon, and Metro Manila.
Price fluctuation due to oversupply or undersupply, inefficient distribution system, and high postharvest losses are among the perennial problems in the vegetable industry. One of the pilot projects aims to stabilize the supply of major vegetables in the target areas by capacitating farmers in preparing better farming plans to diversify harvest time, among others. Other pilot projects will cover distribution, processing, and consumption of vegetables to provide a holistic approach in addressing the issues along the vegetable value chain.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (2018), poverty incidence in Filipino farmers is at 31.6% compared to the nationwide average of 16.7% in the Philippines. In terms of employment, the agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) sector accounts for 22.5% of the total labor force as of October 2022. However, the share of AFF industry to the country's GDP is only 10.1 % in 2021 (World Bank). These just show that there remains a great need to develop the agriculture sector in the country.
This JICA-DA cooperation is visualized to provide solutions to the pressing problems along the vegetable value chains in Benguet, Quezon, and Metro Manila, and develop an inclusive model that can be replicated in the country.
Department of Agriculture Senior USEC Panganiban (left) and JICA Philippines Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema (right) during the signing event witnessed by DA,JICA, and Embassy of Japan officials.