MANILA, Philippines – The governments of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea signed a deal on agriculture cooperation on Friday afternoon, November 16 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit.
The memorandum of agreement will formalize cooperation on rice production reasearch and development, and in rice farming technology between the two countries.
The deal was signed by Philippine Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Papua New Guinea Agriculture and Livestock Minister Benny Allan at the Rice Demo Farm on the ground of the Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea.
The Philippine-Papua New Guinea Rice Demo Farm is envisioned to establish a model seed farm for improved rice production between the two countries
Upon the signing of the agreement, the Philippines is expected to produce more rice in Papua New Guinea.
During the signing, Piñol said that Filipino farmers will be sent to plant "the rice that Papua New Guinea needs," and "bring back the extra rice to the Philippines."
He said that the Philippine government imports about 1.2 million to 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of rice every year from Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, and India.
"We are projecting that in the years to come, [they] might not be able to supply the needs of my people. We are looking forward [to this deal]. So when I talked to [Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano], I told him, 'You know, your idea of planting rice in Papua New Guinea is great," Piñol said.
The agreement covers the following:
Piñol on Friday said that the agreement was the result from the meeting of Duterte and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation held in Vietnam last November 2017.
An official delegation was sent to Papua New Guinea in March. They were composed of experts from the PhilRice, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and private sector partners.
Papua New Guinea imports around 98% of the nearly 400,000 kilos of rice it consumes yearly. It is said, however, that only 50,000 hectares of its 2 million hectares of suitable agriculture lands is required to meet the country's rice needs.
Piñol in August warned that relying on imports to meet the country's rice demands was "problematic."