THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is seeking to expand agricultural and fisheries exports and has set into motion the drafting of the Philippine Agricultural Export Development Plan (PAEDP).

According to a special order signed by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr., the DA will create a national steering committee and technical working group to prepare the plan.

The DA said the national steering committee will set the policy direction that the plan will then flesh out.

It added that a technical working group will help create the mechanisms to facilitate exports and ensure that activities and programs are aligned with the Philippine Export Development Plan (2023-2028).

“Member agencies shall create their respective core group that will (assist in) the creation of the PAEDP and provide technical assistance on matters related to export development,” the DA said.

The DA added that the technical working group will seek to identify priority commodities with the strongest export potential.

The steering committee will be headed by Mr. Laurel with all DA undersecretaries as members, while Assistant Secretary for Policy Research and Development Noel A. Padre will head the technical working group.

Agricultural exports declined 13.3% to $1.61 billion during the third quarter of 2023, accounting for 8.2% of total exports, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Leading exports were edible fruit and nuts as well as peel of citrus fruit melons, valued at $492.09 million or 30.5% of the total.

Among the top five exported commodities were animal and vegetable fats; preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants; tobacco and manufactured substitutes; and preparations of meat of fish, crustacean, mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has said that the government is focusing on increasing exports of agricultural products to make the economy more competitive. — Adrian H. Halili