EU, PHL launch today two new programs in agricultural production, disaster resilience

Following the signing of the financing agreements of two new large programmes, European Union (EU) Ambassador Luc Véron and Secretary of Finance Carlos G. Dominguez launch today the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Programme (BAEP) and the National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines (CopPhil).

BAEP is a new five-year programme to boost local agricultural production and improve the investment climate in the BARMM, while CopPhil is a nationwide three-year programme to reduce vulnerability from natural disasters.

The two Financing Agreements signed between the EU and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) will address the most pressing needs in the country: disaster preparedness and poverty reduction; and the cycle of vulnerability linking the two. Today’s climate and health crises and their long-term effects make these assistance more relevant than ever.

Both programmes will begin in 2022, working closely with the partners from the involved governmental bodies.

Although each programme will work in separate areas, they both contribute to the EU and the GPH’s commitment to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals to support peace, development and prosperity, reduce inequality and fight climate change.

“Understanding how our planet works and in particular how climate change affects it, is vital for sustainable economic growth and food security. Partnerships with an innovative public sector, a competitive business sector, and civil society are critical to success in these areas. In line with the principles of the European Green Deal, the Copernicus and Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise programmes will enhance climate change resilience in the Philippines while strengthening key productive sectors including agriculture and ecosystem management,” highlighted EU Ambassador Luc Véron.

“This assistance from the European Union will support the Duterte administration’s already heightened efforts to boost farm productivity and achieve inclusive growth in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and further strengthen the country’s climate resilience in the face of global warming,” said Secretary Dominguez.

The Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Programme (BAEP), with a € 20 million (about Php 1.14 billion) budget for five years, is part of the broader EU objective of a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro.

The programme will improve the quality and diversity of local agricultural production to respond better to the needs of the market and will support the transitional administration to elaborate a strategy to develop and attract investments in agri-business.

On the production side, the programme will work with local farmers and cooperatives to adopt more integrated farming systems using a value chain approach, thus improving their capacities to increase quantity, quality and consistency of produce throughout the year.

On the commercialisation side, the BAEP will support the establishment of product standard quality systems for halal and sea-aqua products.

Other aspects including ensuring quality control, development of certification procedures and processes as well as the physical infrastructures, such as setting-up well-equipped modern laboratories and processing facilities will also be put in place.

The programme will be assisting the BARMM agri-business sector to establish itself as an effective and recognized regional player and attractive investment opportunity, by facilitating the export of agri-products and processed food within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) trade corridor.

With this programme, the EU aims at supporting local competence and skills development. It will promote the appropriate local research and development, which will focus on climate change-resilient, agro-ecological farming systems, local craftsmanship, better hands-on farm management tools, improved farmer-centred and farmer-driven extension systems, improved conservation processes and respect for traditional and indigenous knowledge.

The programme will also increase women’s participation in business, open new employment opportunities and improve incomes.

The outcomes will be achieved thanks to partnerships with international organizations specializing in the thematic areas of trade promotion and certification, close collaboration with the local technical institutes, quality control services and university departments, involvement of the private sector, as well as through grants for locally-based organizations, such as civil society organizations and cooperatives.

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 National Copernicus Capacity Support Action programme for the Philippines (CopPhil), with a € 10 million (about Php 570 million) budget for a duration of three years, will support the Philippine Government’s objectives of developing and leveraging Space Science & Technology applications to strengthen the nation’s resilience to natural disasters and climate change. This is the first of its kind in the region.

The programme will employ an innovative approach to disaster reduction and climate adaptation using data from the EU Copernicus Earth Observation satellites and ground-based data collection systems. It will also support the Philippine Government’s capacities for decision-making and monitoring of policy implementation based on timely and accurate data.

In the long-term, the programme will contribute to the effective management of the environment and the natural resources of the Philippine ecosystems and improve the resilience of all livelihoods against natural hazards and climate change-related threats.

The cooperation builds on the Philippines’ already strong expertise in space technology applications.

It is designed to address technical and infrastructure needs for enhanced satellite and ground-based data acquisition and processing, information sharing and applications development which are critical for evidence-based policy and decision making in response to disasters.

The European Space Agency, the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Space Agency will be implementing the programme.

Through this cooperation, partners seek to deepen the common understanding of complex earth systems and human dynamics interplay across different disciplines and underpinning technology-based policies and strategies for sustainable development, resilience to climate change and economic growth.

The initiative has a high potential to evolve into a global replicable concept transferable to other regions of the world.

Enhanced satellite data exchange and processing capacities initiated under the pioneer cooperation with the Philippines is intended to be later up-scaled at the regional level under a Phase II of the programme (currently under consideration). 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.