CEBU, Philippines - Small food producers in the Philippines will soon take advantage of the over 600 million consumers in the ASEAN region, as the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is currently crafting a program in coordination with key agencies to allow producers penetrate the region's borderless trade.
“The effort to integrate smallholder farmers in food production is key to food security in Southeast Asia,” said SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. in a statement.
The project, which will be co-implemented by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), will also help small scale food producers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It will be funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“Smallholder farms and small-scale entrepreneurs can be assisted to maximize opportunities of borderless trade and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth through policies that ensure competitive advantage of ASEAN member states.” Saguiguit added.
While certain ASEAN countries such as Singapore and Thailand, have been taking advantage of the more liberalized ASEAN free trade, Philippines’s poor agricultural producers still need to be assisted into taking advantage of trade tariff eliminations.
The ASEAN Merchandise Trade Statistics Database indicated that as of June 2016, Philippines intra-ASEAN exports was at $8.536 billion, only 14.6 percent of intra-ASEAN exports.
However, its intra-ASEAN imports was at $17.063 billion, a higher 24.3 percent of intra-ASEAN imports.
The Philippines had a share of 19.9 percent or $25.6 billion in intra-ASEAN trade in the same period. Those that enjoyed higher export from intra-ASEAN trade were Lao, 71.2 percent; Malaysia, 28.1 percent; Myanmar, 37.5 percent; Singapore, 32.3 percent; and Thailand, 28.9 percent.
Recently, SEARCA, IFPRI, and IFAD crafted the project called “Agricultural Transformation and Market Integration in the ASEAN Region: Responding to Food Security and Inclusiveness Concerns.”
The project is part of SEARCA’s mandate to strengthen capabilities of institutions toward inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) in Southeast Asia. This is accomplished through its work on graduate education in agriculture, research and development, and knowledge management.