AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES
Davao City – The Australian Government, through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), launched today two big horticulture programs aimed to improve the domestic profitability and export competitiveness of selected vegetable and fruit value chains in the southern Philippines.
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Counsellor Sam Zappia, representing Australian Ambassador Rod Smith, and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development (PCARRD) Executive Director Dr Patricio Faylon opened the program inaugural meeting in this city.
Representatives from ACIAR’s partner organisations were also present at the event, including Rey Velasco, Chancellor, University of the Philippines at Los Baños; Jose Bacusmo, President, Visayas State University; David Hall from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries; and Bob Williams from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.
ACIAR is providing Php285 million (A$7.5 million) of the two programs’ total cost of about Php444 million (A$11.7 million), the rest of which are contributions from Australian and Philippine collaborators.
The four-year vegetable value chain program, to be managed by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, aims to develop integrated soil and crop nutrient management in vegetable crops in the southern Philippines and Australia.
The vegetable value chain program will also look at developing a cost-effective protected vegetable cropping system, particularly in the high rainfall areas of Leyte and Mindanao, to produce high value crops in the wet season when prices are high. These systems will also be modified for use in Australia.
The fruit value chain program, on the other hand, will be managed by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and implemented over the next four years in Leyte, Northern Mindanao/Cagayan de Oro, and Southern Mindanao/Davao. This program aims to improve domestic profitability and export competitiveness of the following fruit crops: mango, papaya, durian and jackfruit.
The two programs are the result of consultations and collaborations of ACIAR with the private sector, the local government units, non-government organisations, state universities and colleges, and farmer group representatives. These groups’ involvement is critical to increase the prospects of sustainable adoption of project results, and ultimately increase the productivity, marketability and competitiveness for Philippine agricultural products.
These programs demonstrate the Australian Government’s commitment to support the Philippines continue its fight against poverty by paving the ways for a sustained means of livelihood, particularly in agriculture on which the majority of rural people still depend.
Australia’s official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines, administered primarily by AusAID and also by other agencies such as ACIAR, has grown to Php4.4 billion (A$109.3 million) for 2008-09 – an increase of nine per cent over the previous year. Australian ODA to the Philippines in the last decade has totalled more than Php25 billion (about A$670 million).