BIMP-EAGA mulled as ‘food basket’ in ASEAN

          DAVAO CITY -Key officials from the private sector and government of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) met recently to beef up efforts in making the sub-region the ASEAN’s “food basket” during the 8th BIMP-EAGA Natural Resources Development (NRD) meeting in General Santos City last month.

          Developing EAGA’s potential as a regional food basket through innovative strategies and strengthened collaboration was a major directive during the 6th BIMP-EAGA Leaders Summit last December 2009.

          According to Dr. Rolando Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agri-Business, BIMP-EAGA’s rich and diverse marine and terrestrial resources can contribute to the achievement of the food basket initiative.

          “BIMP-EAGA can aspire to be the mariculture center, aquaculture center, niche chicken supplier (halal) and supplier of primary and intermediate products,” he said.

          He said that BIMP-EAGA must improve the supply-value chain, strengthen collaboration and move on to logistics initiatives.

          The 3-day NRD cluster meeting discussed sub-regional concerns in the areas of agro-industry, fisheries development, environment and energy.

                   The meeting agreed to adopt the list of commodities for food security agenda which includes food crops, fruits, vegetables, root crops, livestock, fisheries, and vegetables. Meanwhile, seaweeds, fisheries and vegetable oils comprise the export development agenda.

          Likewise, the fisheries working group also identified flagship commodities under the food basket initiative and agreed to prioritize bangus, tilapia and pangasius for food security and expansion of trade.

          Under the fisheries cooperation working group, the NRD meeting identified for this year’s joint venture and cooperation initiatives in the areas of seaweed production, development of high-value aquaculture through business matching activities, among others, and the BIMP-EAGA Fisheries Consortium.

          On the joint cooperation on the development of High-value aquaculture, the meeting reported that 26 private sector delegates participated in the business matching sessions and explored business partnerships.

          Results of the business matching will be monitored by the BIMP-EAGA National Secretariats, with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) as Philippines’ Coordinating Office.

          The meeting was held along with the Mindanao-Palawan Business Forum and Matching where six proposals between private and government sectors in BIMP-EAGA were explored.

          During the meeting, MI Noos Manufacturing of Butuan City and PYKES Corporation of Brunei Darussalam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the production of coconut sugar and marketing of the same to international markets.

          For the environment sector, BIMP-EAGA will focus on sustainable forest and biodiversity management in Borneo, climate change adaptation and eco-tourism development.

          The energy sector will focus on completing the study on the establishment of the West Kalimantan-Sarawak Transmission Line for the conventional energy component, as well as developing a common approach to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

          A product exhibit on major Mindanao agricultural products and an on-site tour in a mango plantation in Malungon, Sarangani were also conducted as part of the three-day BIMP-EAGA meeting.

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