The Philippines and the UAE take a significant step in forging stronger relations between the two countries with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in the Agricultural Sector.
This signals deeper and more insightful collaborations across key agricultural matters which include soil science and management, biotechnology, post-harvest transactions, agricultural research and development (R&D), agricultural innovation, protected agriculture technologies, and irrigation and water resources.
The MoU was signed by the Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Hjayceelyn M. Quintana on behalf of the Department of Agriculture in the Philippines, and Engr. Nourah Karam, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector at UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).
In attendance as well during the signing ceremony were Consul General Marford Angeles and Agriculture Attaché Nolet Fulgencio.
Promoting food security
Amb. Quintana highlighted that the MoU comes at an opportune time as the world experiences struggles with climate change and food security, stressing that cooperation among nations is key to tackling these problems in an efficient and timely manner.
“As we grapple with the effects of climate change and international conflicts on our food security, this MOU on Agriculture puts Philippines-UAE engagement in this area of cooperation at a higher level. The Philippines, being one of the countries most affected by climate change, views the signing of this MOU as timely and relevant. The MOU sets up a Joint Committee where officials of the Philippines and the UAE will set directions for cooperation in soil science and management, biotechnology, post-harvest, agriculture R&D, agri-innovation, protected agriculture technology, irrigation, and water resources,” said Amb. Quintana.
Speaking on the new partnership, Engr. Karam said that this would be mutually beneficial as both countries aim to find solutions and futureproof the agricultural advancements and developments through joint efforts.
“MOCCAE is keen to build bridges of cooperation with the concerned authorities in other countries as part of its efforts to achieve the country’s goals in food security, environmental protection, and climate action. The agreement with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture focuses on identifying innovative solutions that strengthen food security by implementing technology, adopting modern climate-smart agricultural systems, increasing food production, and ensuring the continuity of supply chains,” said Engr. Karam.
In addition, the Philippines also puts a premium on Agriculture, with no less than Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos at the helm of this sector.
“This MOU provides a strong framework for the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to work with UAE as a partner in the Middle East for agricultural innovation, especially as the new President will be concurrently taking the helm of the Department of Agriculture indicating a strong focus on agriculture by the new President. This will take advantage of complementarities between the Philippines and the UAE, each having different climatic conditions and equipped with unique and specific areas of specialization that can be applied towards providing solutions in agricultural production for the benefit of both countries,” added Amb. Quintana.
Engr. Karam stated that the exchange of insights between the Philippines and the UAE will be important in the coming days to help enhance vital agricultural requirements of both countries to assure support for all residents from all walks of life.
“Sharing knowledge and best practices between our two countries, which rely on innovation to deal with challenges, will help us build sustainable food systems and meet our food security targets. We look forward to cooperating with our counterparts in the Philippines, and are confident this partnership will bring us mutual benefits,” said Engr. Karam.
For her part, Agricultural Attache Nolet Fulgencio is optimistic that the MoU will pave the way for both countries to help address and anticipate key issues for the next few years, such as adequate water supply and food security.
“The Department looks forward to implementing this MOU. Food security and food safety are very important issues for the Philippines and the UAE, and both are employing technology and innovation to address current food system challenges. I think the prospects for collaboration are plenty and exciting, given our varied experiences and expertise,” said Fulgencio.
She added that the next steps include coming up with the Joint Committee from the Philippines and the UAE to discuss specific steps both countries can take to take the partnership to the next level.
“The Department of Agriculture (DA) will now constitute the members of the Joint Committee for the Philippine side, which will be technical agencies under it such as the Bureau of Soils and Water Management and the Bureau of Plant Industry, and communicate this to the UAE side once finalized,” explained Fulgencio.