PH, Cambodia to strengthen rice trade

PH, Cambodia to strengthen rice trade
DA-Western Visayas file photo

THE Philippines and Cambodia have agreed to strengthen their rice trade as the former establishes its inventory amid the current El Niño phenomenon that may impact local palay production.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met on Monday, March 4, 2024, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet on the sidelines of the 50th Asean-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne.

During the meeting, Marcos expressed the Philippines’ desire to engage Cambodia in trade in agriculture, specifically rice.

“Some MOUs 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 Hun.

“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.

While Marcos told the Cambodian leaders that the country is improving in terms of palay production, he said the country still needs to import to secure its rice inventory and one area to explore and strengthen is to improve its ties with other rice-producing countries like Cambodia.

The two leaders also discussed connectivity during the bilateral meeting, particularly to boost their tourism industries, as well as trade and investment.

“We now have flights, five times, Cambodia to NAIA, possibility to increasing destination… Cambodia to Cebu,” Hun told Marcos, adding Cambodia has just opened an airport in Siem Reap and will be opening another one in Phnom Penh next year.

Marcos told his counterpart that the Philippine government has contracted a group to modernize and improve the efficiency of the Manila airport, which has been neglected for years, while it is also developing other regional airports closer to tourist spots 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,” the President 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,” he added.

As of February 29, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said a total of 14,854.86 hectares of crop area were affected by the El Niño phenomenon, which may persist until the first quarter of 2024.

The damage to infrastructure was estimated at P941,730,70.01. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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