Japan answers call to help PH agri sector


The Japanese government is firming up support for the Philippine agriculture sector amid persistently high inflation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) gearing up to pilot food value chain (FVC) models in Benguet, Quezon province and Metro Manila.

Jica and the DA on Friday signed documents on technical cooperation for the “Project for Market-Driven Enhancement of Vegetable Value Chain (MV2C),” representing a green light for the initiative that entered the planning stage earlier this year.

The two agencies first signed in October 2021 a “records of discussion” on the MV2C, which is intended to help tame food price fluctuations due to oversupply, undersupply, inefficient distribution system and high post-harvest losses.

Beyond addressing consumers’ problems about food prices, the project is aimed at helping vegetable farmers earn higher income, more job opportunities and eased social disparities.

Sakamoto Takema, chief representative of Jica, who signed for Japan in a ceremony held at the DA headquarters in Quezon City, said they shared the sentiment that a strong economy cannot be achieved without the foundation of a robust agricultural sector.

Long-standing cooperation

“With this vision, Jica aims to continue and expand its long-standing cooperation to this important sector, agriculture,” Sakamoto said.

“This market-oriented approach is also essential to address the issues related to income generation, job creation, and disparity mitigation among others,” he added.

Experts from Japan are expected to be dispatched to the Philippines to provide technical guidance and share their experience and know-how for modernized FVC.

According to Jica, one of the pilot FVC projects was aimed at stabilizing the supply of major vegetables in the target areas by equipping farmers with skills needed to prepare 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.

Inclusive model

Further, the Jica-DA cooperation is expected to develop an inclusive FVC model that can be replicated beyond the three pilot areas and across the country.

The project is expected to help address production and supply chain issues that have long hounded the country’s agriculture sector, contributing to the high prices of basic food items.

For this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects the rate of increase in prices of basic goods and services to continue accelerating in December, with Governor Felipe Medalla saying inflation would probably peak at about 8.5 percent from 8 percent in November.

The BSP expects monthly inflation to remain above the government’s target range of 2 to 4 percent in the first half of next year. The latest BSP forecast puts the full-year average at 4.8 percent in 2023.

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