DAVAO CITY: The Israeli ambassador to the Philippines is bullish on Philippine agriculture as the major engine of economic development of the country, given the right capacity building to understand the process of value and supply chain and for farmers to become commercial or export farmers.
Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau, who visited the city on Tuesday to speak in the one-day seminar on trends and innovations in Israel horticulture, dairy and livestock and aqua culture, said the country’s conditions are incredible for having successful commercial farmers because everything is here like climate, water, land, among others.
He, however, hinted on lack of right capacity building of farmers on farming technology. Under current situation, he said agriculture is one of the biggest liabilities of the Philippine economy because it holds the largest number of people with 60 to 70 percent workforce.
He said this is a large contrast to agriculture’s contribution to the country’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with only 10 to 15 percent. According to Matityau, the country always looks at agriculture as a subsistent issue when it can become an engine for growth.
“Farming can turn into successful businesses,” he said, emphasizing that farmers must be given the chance to maximize their potentials through appropriate training to understand value and supply chain to see the market and not just crop change.
He pointed out that farmers must understand what a commercial farmer is and what really is sustainable farming as a contributing part of the economy.
“No matter what we do and how we do if we don’t change numbers we cannot bring down the number of workforce (agricultural) and increase the GDP contribution then we continue to look at agriculture as a subsistent or poverty issue,” he said.
“We just have to be on the right road to value chain. The most promising markets – some of them are here,” he said.
Matityau said this is one of the reasons the Isareli government continue sto be a traditional partner of the Philippines in the agricultural sector, offering years of exchanges in development programs to support food security and poverty reduction in rural communities.
“Israel has positioned itself as one of the leaders in the sector being a major innovation hub and world leader of agricultural technologies. The Philippines is a traditional partner, being our complementary economy,” he said.
One of these partnerships is through providing learning and training to Filipino agri-tech students most of whom are from Mindanao.
Matityau said there are now 543 Filipino students from 26 state colleges and universities that are participating in an 11-month agro-studies program in Israel. For the last 10 years, 3,000 Filipino professionals were trained on various courses and workshops under fields of study, mostly in agriculture.
“They present a very promising components as leaders of change because having young generation coming from the agro-community they go to agricultural colleges and they get relatively good element academic know how and learning experiences theory,” he said.
“When they come back they must be given the chance to practice but they require partners,” he said.
He added that there are additional components on the OJT (On the Job Training) attached to Israel farmers to be modern agricultural market oriented especially in the export market and they get knowledge of what it is to be successful farmer.
“While conditions of Israel and the Philippines are different but if you come down to identify the problems, they are similar,” the ambassador stressed.
It was learned that Israel’s agro-technology industry is characterized by intensive research and development of innovative systems, rooted in the need to overcome local scarcity of water and arable land.
However, through close cooperation among researchers, extension agents, farmers and agriculture-related industries, the industry players are fostering market-oriented agribusiness methods, systems and products in a country where more than half of the area is desert. |