President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday vowed to strengthen cooperation in the agriculture sector as the US official cited the chief executive for taking the agriculture portfolio.
“I was also struck by something which is your decision — despite the fact that you have a full-time job, you also took the agriculture portfolio. And I wanted to tell you that this is an area of intense focus for us, food security,” Blinken said during his courtesy call on the President in Malacañang.
By taking the helm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Blinken said President Marcos is able to gain a better understanding of the country’s numerous challenges.
“In your position in agriculture, you are getting a further understanding of the Philippines’ needs and where you can help,” Blinken told Marcos.
Marcos said the COVID-19 pandemic had fueled the need to improve agricultural sustainability, address food supply concerns and bolster the country’s response to future crises.
“One of the painful lessons of the pandemic was when food shipments were stopped, we suddenly realized we cannot feed ourselves, which is an immediate weakness in everything that we will do,” Marcos said.
The chief executive said this is why there is a need for a more robust food production and distribution system. “That immediately became a priority. And it is something that we now are slowly working on,” said Marcos.
The President also sought Washington’s assistance in the area of research and innovation in agriculture.
“We have very good scientific researchers who have been working on this, but we have to organize them better. And I think any exchanges with your researchers and scientists and institutions would certainly be welcomed,” Marcos told Blinken.
Blinken said the United States is ready to work with the Philippines in this area.
“We are happy to work with you on this in any way what you see appropriate, and certainly we make sure that what expertise we have, we can share,” said Blinken.
During Blinken’s courtesy call on Marcos, the two talked about a wide range of issues, including the US government’s commitment to continue the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. | PND