European Union extends P1.7B in agriculture, climate grants for PHL

Rice fields were flooded when Typhoon Maring hit La Union, Oct. 12, 2021. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) agreed to grant €30.4 million (about P1.76 billion) to the Philippines to support agriculture and climate projects over the next few years.

The Department of Finance (DoF) and the EU delegation to the Philippines on Wednesday signed financing agreements for a €20.2-million (P1.17-billion) grant that will support agriculture businesses in the Bangsamoro region.

Set to start this year, the five-year grant will fund assistance to the agriculture business sector in BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).

The program will help local farmers and cooperatives use integrated farming systems that will improve their ability to increase the quantity and quality of their produce.

The Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Program will also help set product standard quality systems for halal and sea-aqua goods.

“The program will improve the quality and diversity of local agricultural production to respond better to the needs of the market,” the EU said in a press release.

The aim is to help agriculture businesses in the region be recognized as attractive investment opportunities, and help them export products to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It also hopes to boost women’s participation in business and create employment opportunities.

“The EU will engage a technical assistance support service provider to work directly with local governmental bodies within the BARMM to improve their institutional capacities.”

The project will be rolled out with the help of international organizations that work on trade promotion, local technical institutes, university departments, quality control services, the private sector, and civil society organizations.

SATELLITE DATAMeanwhile, €10.2 million (P591 million) will go to the three-year National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Program for the Philippines (CopPhil) that would develop space science and technology for use against climate change.

The project will work on reducing disaster risks and adapting to climate change using data from the EU Copernicus Earth Observation satellites and ground-based data collection.

“It will also support the Philippine government’s capacities for decision making and monitoring of policy implementation based on timely and accurate data,” the EU said through its external action service.

The CopPhil project aims to help the Philippines effectively manage its natural resources and make sure that local jobs are resilient against natural disasters.

The European Space Agency, the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Space Agency will implement the program.

The project may be replicated in other countries, especially if the data exchange done in the initial agreement is later scaled up at the regional level, the EU said.

“This will facilitate access to Copernicus data and development of applications, products and services from the Philippines for the benefit of government authorities and stakeholders in the highly disaster-vulnerable ASEAN and Asia- Pacific regions.”

The agreements were signed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and European Union Delegation to the Philippines Ambassador Luc Veron. — Jenina P. Ibañez