By Janina C. Lim, Reporter
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has received from the South Korean government a grant to be used in beefing up smart greenhouse projects that will improve domestic tomato production.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the agency signed a memorandum of agreement with the Korea Agency for Education, Promotion and Information Service in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (EPIS) for a $2.43 million grant.
This will go to the K-Smart project which aims to boost production among small to medium-scale farmers.
It also targets to give farmers a broader market access through co-branding initiatives and help them take advantage of shipping their produce across the country.
The first 18 K-Smart Greenhouses will be put up in Benguet Province to produce high value vegetables, especially tomatoes.
The project will be implemented with the assistance of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
“As the DA Secretary, I have committed that as soon as high value vegetable farmers confirm the effectiveness of the Smart Greenhouses in increasing their productivity, I will propose the inclusion of the program for more greenhouses in the 2020 Budget of the DA,” Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post on Friday.
The deal comes after President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit last month to South Korea where he held bilateral talks with President Moon Jae-in.
In that meeting, the DA signed a P28-billion supply contract with South Korean supermarket chain, Emart. The supermarket will be supplied various fruits over the next three years.
The grant is apart from a planned investment by the Korean Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO), a group of 200 firms. The group said it needed a 50-hectare area for the assembly plant which would manufacture tractors and other farm machinery.
The Bases Conversion Development Authority has already committed such a site at the Clark Development Zone for the KAMICO Project, according to the DA chief.
Mr. Piñol also noted that Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has also pledged to support the project by asking the Board of Investments to provide incentives to KAMICO.