Another gateway to Japan opportunities opened for Bohol after President Rodrigo Duterteâ€™s State visit last week.
As Japan seeks long-term suppliers of Class A bananas from Philippines, Third District Rep. Arthur Yap eyes a vantage spot for Bohol in the deal.
As chair of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the House of Representatives, Yap had again joined Duterteâ€™s State visit entourage, together with former Maribojoc mayor and now Executive Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., Senator Jose Victor Ejercito,Â House Speaker Pantaleon AlvarezÂ and other legislative leaders.
They had joined Japan Prime MinisterÂ Prime Minister AbeYap,Â Senator Yamaguchi of the Japanese House of Councillors in a dinner on October 26.
Duterte and Yap discussed with Abe about development projects during the Prime Ministerâ€™s dinner treat.
More than 20 billion US dollars in project fundings were released to the market at the conclusion of the trip.
Bohol has been in partnership withÂ Japan and the latter has, in fact, funded the construction of the New Bohol Airport in Panglao which is expected to be completed by end of 2017.
During the State visit, Yap assisted in finalizing the Farmind contract signing where Japan pledged an annual order of more than 20 million boxes of Class A bananas.
Yap hopes that aside from Mindanao, â€œthe sizable order will give Bohol farmers a chance to plant bananas not only for domestic needs but also for export to the high value Japanese markets”.
Japan is looking for long-term suppliers and Yap is intent on bringing an export high-value crop to benefit Bohol farmers.
In addition to bananas, Yap also found ways to expand cacao and ube plantings in Bohol â€œto diversify the rural income opportunities for farmers in Boholâ€.
Yap also emphasized the need to empower the farmers by helping them cut the cost of farm inputs and maximize the output.
He expects his Free Irrigation Bill to be approved in about six months if Duterte will certify it as urgent.
â€œHopefully, if the President certifies it as urgent and priority of his administration, then maybe we can finish it (passage of Free Irrigation Bill) in about six months time,â€ according to Yap.
Yap also proposed for the putting up of post-harvest facilities to convert the current 15-percent post-harvest losses in crops into clean harvest or marketable farm produce.
â€œThis country is suffering from 15 percent post-harvest lossesÂ sa lahat ng produce natin. Without having to plant a single meter of new crops, we can add to what we are harvesting especially in corn and rice by just putting up the post-harvest facilities- -the mechanization. You have 15 percent there,â€ Yap explained.
Even cutting the losses in half is already equivalent to more than half of the national import volume for
â€œNow, what we can do is to reform the National Food Authority.Â Matagal na rin namang naghintay yongÂ Bill na yan.Â Let us now separate its regulatory functions from its trading functions. Can you imagine if all these laws are in place?â€ Yap added.
While theÂ Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) has not yet convened, Yap is optimistic since Duterte had at least â€œalready made a pronouncement that he (Duterte) wants to convene the LEDAC more regularlyâ€.
Meanwhile, Duterte described Japan as a “true friend” and that the Philippines will never abandon its relationship with Japan.
PM Abe in return reiterated its support for Duterte and his anti-drug campaign and vowed his Government’s support for Philippines’ Development Projects.