Manila has partnered with Hanoi for the development of integrated pest management and exchange of information on post-harvest technologies and processing in high-value crops, as well as stronger cooperation in the fisheries sector, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said representatives from the Philippines and Vietnam agreed that their respective plant protection experts will meet and identify specific fruits and vegetables for export and determine phytosanitary requirements.
The agreement was made during the recent First Meeting of the Joint Agriculture Working Group between the two countries.
The meeting was headed by DA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning Orlan Calayag and Agriculture and Rural Development Vice Minister Vu Van Tam of Vietnam.
Last year, the Philippines was at last included in the list of countries that can export products of plant origin to Vietnam, after three years of submitting applications for accreditation.
Fresh and processed fruit exporters, particularly small growers, would benefit most from this new opportunity.
Among the promising exports are fresh Cavendish bananas and pineapple; processed fruits like dried mangoes, banana chips and canned pineapple products; and other products of plant origin that meet Vietnam’s food safety control system standards.
The accreditation process had been challenging for the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry, according to DA Assistant Secretary for Regulations Paz Benavidez 2nd because the Philippine Food Safety Act was just approved and its implementing rules and regulations are yet to be completed.
“Only big companies have food safety control systems in place. Small farmers are not even aware of the Good Agricultural Practices [GAP], which is one of the requirements for exporters,” Benavidez said.
In securing the accreditation, the following were required from the Philippines: information on food safety control system; list of pesticides, plant growth regulators, preservatives used in production, storage and trade of foodstuffs; and annual updated Food Safety Monitoring Program for foodstuffs during production, domestic circulation and export.
Meanwhile, Alcala said the Philippines expressed interest in knowing more about the technologies on the control of the black pepper disease.
The DA chief added that the Philippines and Vietnam agreed to effectively carry out the Memorandum of Agreement on Fisheries Cooperation signed by both counties in 2009.
“We aim to bolster a united effort in aquaculture, fisheries, processing and marketing, including but not limited to advanced technology transfer, training and capacity-building, culinary or processing practices, post-harvest technologies and exchange of visits,” Alcala said.
Both countries aim to establish a hotline to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and to support humanitarian search and rescue operations at sea.
“The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Philippines and the Directorate of Fisheries of Vietnam will work on specific details to report to their respective Department and Ministry, respectively, so that the hotline can be permanently established by the end of 2015,” Alcala said.