THE Philippines will be sending over 500 college students annually to Israel in order to learn from Tel Aviv's expertise and advanced technologies in agriculture, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Wednesday.

The deployment of 550 college students chosen from 29 agricultural schools outside Metro Manila is part of the proposal to expand the current exchange program of the two countries in the agriculture sector.

This was discussed during the recent meeting between Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Israel Ambassador to Manila Ephraim Ben Matityau.

Quoting Matityau, DOF said a program he had piloted in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education aims to develop “leaders of change” in the Philippines who will be trained in utilizing Tel Aviv’s technological innovations that have made agriculture a profitable venture for Israel’s richest entrepreneurs.

Israel, for one, invented drip irrigation, which allows dry lands to produce multiple yields.

The agreement on technical cooperation in the field of agriculture between Israel and the Philippines date back to 1964, six years after the two countries signed their Treaty of Friendship on February 26, 1958.

Dominguez and Matityau also discussed possible investments by Israeli companies in the Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and in private-sector startups in the information technology (IT) sector.

Besides the exchange program, the Philippines and Israel have also forged 13 other bilateral agreements, among them, a Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation, Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters, a Tourism agreement, and a cooperation agreement on Telecommunications.

Some 30,000 Filipinos live and work in Israel.

Citizens carrying Philippine passports enjoy visa-free entry to Israel, as an expression of Israel’s gratitude to our country for allowing many Jewish families to seek refuge here in the 1930s to the 1940s to escape the Holocaust.

The Philippines was also the only Asian country to support in November 1947 before the United Nations General Assembly the creation of the State of Israel. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)


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