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PH could become Japan’s next garden

TOKYO – The Philippines could become the next “garden of Japan” and provide its preferred agriculture products such as bananas, pineapples, and avocados.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol made the proposal of enhanced agricultural cooperation to his Japanese counterpart, who later agreed to the idea, during their recent meeting in Japan.

“Sabi ko sa Agriculture Minister, let us be the garden of Japan. Kung ano kailangan ninyo, tatanim namin,” Piñol said in a media interview in Tokyo last Friday.

Asked about the response of head of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Piñol said: “Very positive.”

Apart from bananas, pineapples, and mangoes, Piñol said the country is prepared to explore other products that could be exported to Japan such as avocados. He said a local company has already started planting avocados in General Santos City.

Meantime, the government also plans to draft a formal letter asking Japan to eliminate or at least reduce tariffs for Philippine bananas going to Japan. At present, bananas are slapped with seasonal tariffs ranging from eight percent to 18 percent.

Piñol said he has asked for a uniform tariff rate of eight percent “so we can produce more for the Japanese market.”

“Since they really love our bananas sabi ko baka pwede uniporme na. So they asked me to write a formal letter,” he added.

Asked about the benefit of lower tariffs for bananas, Piñol said it would translate to more income for local banana growers and facilitate expansion of the sector. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)