MANILA – Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol recently hailed the Duterte administration for the latest achievement in the agricultural sector as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) allowed the entry of young coconuts (buko) to America.
“(This is) another PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) achievement,” said Piñol on his FB page.
In a press release issued by the Philippine Embassy in Washington on May 29, Dr. Josyline Javelosa, the Philippine Agriculture Attaché to the United States, said that the US government has confirmed that young coconuts from the Philippines may now be exported through all ports in the USA.
Javelosa joined the bilateral meeting on May 22-23, 2019 between Plant Health Officers of the Philippines and the United States at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) headquarters at Riverdale, Maryland.
In the meeting, Dr. Jill Wallace, Head of the US delegation and Deputy Director of Phytosanitary Issues Management (PIM), confirmed that young coconuts from the Philippines that are immature/green, and with 75 percent or more of outer shell surface of the husk removed, can be inspected and released to the United States as authorized under 7 CFR 319.56.
Mr. George Culaste, head of the Philippine Delegation and Director of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), welcomed this development and cited the Philippine young coconut producers, especially in Mindanao, who are waiting to tap export markets such as the USA and China.
Other issues discussed during the meeting include the Philippine request for the access of its okra (lady finger) to the US market; Philippine proposal to have the US waive pre-clearance requirements for Philippine fresh mango exports; US request for its blueberries to access the Philippine market; and the two countries’ respective initiatives with regard to Export Certification and Electronic Phytosanitary Certificates and observance of the 2020 International Year of Plant Health.
USDA-APHIS also took the opportunity to host site-visits for the meeting participants to their impressive facilities, such as the APHIS Plant Germplasm Inspection Station and Quarantine Program in Beltsville, Maryland and the APHIS National Identification Services for plant pests in both the USDA-Agricultural Research Service building in Beltsville, Maryland and at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
“I congratulate the participants for covering a lot of ground in their bilateral meeting,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez in a statement.
“These positive developments bode well for the expansion of Philippines-US agriculture cooperation and creation of opportunities for Filipino and American farmers and agri-businesses,” he added. (PNA)