INCREASED FILIPINO FOOD EXPORTS

There seems to be a new light at the end of the tunnel for the small Filipino farmers. This seems apparent as the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture have teamed up to pour in millions in funds for assistance.

With the collaboration of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, the small Filipino farmer can hope to raise their food exports. The Philippines currently imports more agricultural products from Australia, the United States, Europe and ASEAN that it exports to other countries.

Because of the big trade imbalance between the Philippines and other rich nations, these two entities have decided to join hands to help the small Filipino farmer. The two entities have embarked on a program called Agricultural Transformation & Market Integration. This program seeks to integrate small farmers into the larger ASEAN market.

Official records show that the Philippines imported $555 million worth of goods from Australia but exported only $69 million in 2016. From the US, we imported $2.54 billion worth of goods as against our exports of only $1.334 billion. Our negative balance of trade with Australia last year stood at $486 million and with the United States, it stood at $1.208 billion.

That also goes for our exports to the ASEAN. Last year, we imported $3.837 billion but exported only $525 million worth of goods in 2016. For the other countries with whom we have trade relations, we imported $4.036 million worth of farm goods but exported only $1.684 billion.

This is the grim picture of our Balance of Trade with the world. The good news, though, is the dawning of golden opportunities for Philippine farm exports. Coconut oil exports grew from $574 million in 2015 to $711 million in 2016. The same goes for our banana exports which grew from $658 million in 2015 to $730 million in 2016.

The Agricultural Transformation & Market Integration program seeks to enhance cooperation among ASEAN nations for food security and agricultural development through investment in food and agri-based industries. Small farmers will be assisted in upgrading their processing, transporting and marketing of their raw and fresh farm produce. The program will also address the problem of access to credit that can help farmers in transporting their goods and lease or buy additional land areas to maximize their farm production.

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