JAPAN has been identified as a potential market for tea and buckwheat produced in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) President Emmanuel G. Herbosa said.

In an interview last week, Mr. Herbosa told BusinessWorld that once the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) “stabilizes” the situation, BARMM farmers and rebel returnees will be taught to plant export-ready crops through farming organizations.

Japanese investors are “working out the arrangements” and are currently conducting pilot projects to share technology for growing buckwheat and tea, he said.

“We are already in touch with the farming organizations to go and help all the Muslim farmers, many of them are rebel returnees. Then the Japanese now, through technology transfer, can teach them again how to plant buckwheat for Soba (noodles) and this is practically export-oriented,” he said.

He added that Kyushu, the southernmost Japanese main island, has a market “that is very interested in tea.”

“The Japanese… have a pilot projects right now. Kyushu is very interested in tea (growing) and coffee. The other possible crop is buckwheat for Soba. All we have to do now is get those farms off the ground and that’s (an initiative) that DBP will sustain,” he said.

He said DBP will come in with financing one the farms and the region’s political climate have stabilized.

He said other initiatives will seek to ensure food security across the region, expand economic inclusion and help rebel returnees to be “peaceful, productive and prosperous farmers.”

He also said that if negotiations proceed as planned, there will be “no middleman” as the products will be sold directly to Japan. — Beatrice M. Laforga