THE Philippines aims to export more farm and fishery products to Canada with a target of doubling the value of such shipments over the medium term, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

In a virtual call with new Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter MacArthur on Aug. 7, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that an agreement has been reached to expand areas of agricultural cooperation and partnership in potato and dairy production, food logistics and markets, and agroforestry, among others.

“We wish to improve our balance of trade with Canada in succeeding years by selling more Filipino products like coconut water, virgin coconut oil (VCO), pineapples, mangoes, and melons,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. MacArthur said that Canada is ready to assist the government in building producers’ markets, enhancing food supply logistics, and implementing an agro-forestry program that will benefit indigenous communities.

According to the DA, the Philippines exported around $98.8 million worth of farm and fishery products to Canada in 2019.

Coconut products led all exports at $23.8 million, followed by pineapple, dried guava, mango, and mangosteen amounting to $10.3 million, and fish products such as tuna and bangus worth $9.4 million.

“With about one million Filipinos residing and working in Canada — representing 2.7% of that country’s 37.7 million population, according to latest estimates — demand for various Philippine food products is expected to grow,” the DA said.

The DA said that in 2019, Canada exported $192 million worth of food products to the Philippines.

Frozen pork and offal amounted to $57.3 million, followed by deboned meat, ham, and other meat products $20 million, potatoes $11.6 million, and pig fat $6.7 million.

Mr. Dar said the first phase of adaptation tests for eight Canadian potato varieties were completed in Buguias, Benguet province while the second phase will start in October.

“If the adaptation trials succeed, yielding quality and cost-efficient potatoes (compared with)  traditional varieties, Cordillera farmers could subsequently produce their own seed instead of relying on imports, and produce in commercial quantities for both table and processing use,” Mr. Dar said.

The potato trial is a joint project of the DA’s Cordillera Administrative Region high-value crops development program, Canada’s Prince Edward Island Potato Board, and the Canadian Embassy. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave