By Christine Joyce S. Castañeda Senior Researcher
and Mark T. Amoguis Researcher
THE Philippines is looking to tap Israeli expertise and investment to develop the agriculture sector, the Department of Agriculture said.
At a meeting with an Israeli delegation in Taguig City yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he hopes to enlist Israeli technology to help irrigate 500,000 hectares of farmland over the next three years to help boost rice production.
Mr. Piñol said he hopes to explore cooperation in five key areas: solar irrigation, drone technology, dairy farming, aquaculture, and greenhouse technology.
“We are now looking into using drone technology for rice seeding, and we will be very interested if our Israeli friends can work with us in this area,” Mr. Piñol said, adding that Israeli help will be welcome in raising dairy productivity.
According to Mr. Piñol, the country only produces 1.8% of its total dairy requirement and imports the remainder.
“We would be interested in establishing a government-to-government engagement in this field,” he said.
On the need for greenhouse technology, Mr. Piñol said: “This is our option to address climatic conditions in the country which affect agriculture. We really have to go full-blast in greenhouse farming.”
Crops he cited for possible Israeli participation were abaca, coconut, mango, seaweed, shrimp, processed meat and cacao.
Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz said on the sidelines of the event that he sees major potential for doing business in agriculture.
“We identified that there’s a great potential for Israeli and Filipino companies to do business together… but there are some challenges that the Filipinos are facing when it comes to developing the agriculture sector,” Mr. Harpaz told BusinessWorld.
The Israeli delegation consisted of agricultural management software company AgriTask, greenhouse company Argos (Agri-Projects) Ltd., dairy milking and herd intelligence firm Allflex, horticulture company Eisenberg Agri Co. Israel, post-harvest technology company Eshet Eilon, agricultural services company Gadot Agro, fertilizer company Israel Chemical Ltd., agro-technology firm Innovative Agro Industry, micro-irrigation and greenhouse solutions provider, landscaping and irrigation company Metzerplas Cooperative Agricultural Organization Ltd., and water technology firm Tahal Group.
“These Israeli companies have the technology that could help the areas that you need… when it comes to traditional issues of agriculture, drip irrigation, postharvest, all the areas of dairy production, agro-industry, water management, water security. Israel excels in these areas and all these were discussed during the historic visit of your President (Rodrigo R. Duterte) in September….,” Mr. Harpaz said.
Mr. Duterte visited Israel in September, signing 21 agreements worth roughly $82.9 million.
Total trade between the Philippines and Israel hit $170.57 million in 2018, according to the Department of Finance, with Israel the 42nd biggest destination for Philippine exports that year.