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PH, Cambodia to boost rice supply cooperation

MANILA: The Philippines and Cambodia will boost rice supply cooperation, discussed during President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet on the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne.

In a statement Monday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the Philippines want to engage Cambodia in trade in agriculture, specifically rice.

‘Some MOUs (Memoranda of Understanding) that have lapsed… we really need to look back and engage with in terms of trade in agriculture, rice specifically. When I visited you in Cambodia last time, that subject that we were talking about. We were preparing for this drought. It’s now happening,’ Marcos told the Cambodian leader on Monday, according to the PCO.

‘It caught our attention. We really should look into it. Something that is necessary now. That’s the lesson learned from pandemic. We really have to be flexible in looking to our suppliers,’ he added.

Marcos also told Hun about the improving pa
lay (unhusked rice) production in the Philippines but noted that the country still needs to import to secure rice inventory.

One area to explore and strengthen is to improve its ties with other rice-producing countries like Cambodia, according to Marcos.

The two leaders likewise tackled connectivity, particularly the boosting of tourism industries as well as trade and investment.

For his part, Hun said he likes to have follow-up discussions on connectivity and increasing the number of tourists from Cambodia to the Philippines and vice versa.

‘We now have flights, five times, Cambodia to NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), possibility to increasing destination… Cambodia to Cebu,’ Hun said.

He said Cambodia has just opened an airport in Siem Reap and will be opening another one in Phnom Penh next year.

During the bilateral meeting, Marcos said the Philippine government has contracted a group to modernize and improve the efficiency of the Manila airport.

Other regional airports closer to tourist sp
ots will also be developed to encourage tourists to come to the Philippines.

‘We are also encouraging flights to regional airports. I think that is what we keep hearing, low-hanging fruit. I’m sure Filipinos will be interested. I count myself. I am interested to go in… travel in Cambodia,’ Marcos said.

‘We have done little yet to explore. I fully agree. That’s for two countries, an advantage for us. I’m very much open for that. We will try to see, when I get back, which regional airports are ready to take international tourists and visitors. And I will be glad if we could increase the volume of exchange… tourism, travelers, and even business,’ Marcos added.

El Niño fight

Speaker Martin Romualdez said the rice supply cooperation between the Philippines and Cambodia would not only diversify the sources of importation but also help mitigate the adverse effects of El Niño.

‘While we are making significant strides towards achieving rice self-sufficiency, prudence dictates that we should provide contingency me
asures to ensure people would have adequate rice supply at the best possible price if our local production falls short of expectation,’ Romualdez said in a statement.

He warned that rice prices may remain high through September due to the potential effects of El Niño on the global supply and the spike in demand.

Citing Feb. 29 data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the damage to the country’s agriculture sector due to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon has increased to over PHP941 million.

‘Cambodia has long been recognized for its expertise in rice cultivation and production, and its willingness to support the Philippines in addressing its rice supply concerns is deeply appreciated,’ Romualdez said.

Source: Philippines News Agency