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Papua New Guinea rice-planting deal expected this week

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rice farmers

THE Philippines will sign this week an agricultural agreement allowing Filipino companies to expand their rice planting operations in Papua New Guinea.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will be flying to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday to finalize the deal, which will also include further cooperation in the tuna fishing industry.

“Our interest in Papua New Guinea also includes tuna fishing. We have five canneries owned by Filipinos in Papua New Guinea and we have long been dealing with them,” he told reporters Monday.

He said rice planting in Papua New Guinea helps address the issue of limited area for rice planting in the Philippines, as well as demand from the growing population.

The government-to-government agreement involves projected output of 8 million metric tons on an area of about 1 million hectares within five years. Some of the output will be sold to meet Papua New Guinea domestic demand while the remainder will be purchased by the National Food Authority.

The deal also involves a 100-hectare model farm for use by Filipino companies such as SL Agritech Corp., a producer of hybrid rice seed.

“We are encouraging private companies to invest there so that instead of importing from Thailand or Vietnam, our Filipino companies can invest there instead,” Mr. Piñol said. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato