Last March 12 (Wednesday), a meeting on Philippine Preparation for ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Integration 2015 was held at the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Senate Office Room 515, GSIS Building, Pasay City.
Present were the Chairperson of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano, Rosendo So and Jayson Cainglet of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna, and representatives from various national agricultural associations and industries.
Serrano presented the plans of DA in the coming economic integration where tariffs for most commodities would be at 0 to 5 percent except for commodities classified as sensitive and highly sensitive by participating countries.
With the on-going smuggling of agricultural commodities and the concern of agricultural stakeholders for market competency, Serrano was told that DA should focus their attention on imported products and let the private sector deal with exportation matters.
That having said, personalities present agreed that the DA’s quarantine and inspection facilities and processes should be improved in order to prevent products containing harm chemicals and substances from entering Philippine market.
Villlar said that Science and Technology should be institutionalized in the Philippines, allocating funding to research-driven state universities and having permanent research drives on major crops.
Mentioned during the meeting was the need to solve the problem on high cost production which entails high prices for agricultural commodities in comparison with those from other countries.
Also discussed were the problems encountered by DA in funding, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) seeming lack of interest for agricultural development, the inability of some exporters to comply with imposed standards and the need for development programs for the agricultural sector.
Another meeting was set to discuss the concrete plans and cost implications for AEC 2015 preparations.