The policy was adopted as the two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy came to a close in Iloilo last Monday.
Proceso Alcala, the Philippine Secretary of Agriculture said the Iloilo Plan of Action - which was eventually endorsed to APEC Leaders who will meet in Manila later this year – was a product of a dialogue process that involved smallholders, including marginal and sub-marginal farmers and entrepreneurs.
“In our hosting of the agriculture, food security and blue economy meetings of the APEC this week, the private sector voice – normally dominated by the big business representatives – has been given the right balance by [sectoral representatives supported by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries],” Mr Alcala told the reporters in a news briefing at the Iloilo Convention Center.
He said such procedure supports instructions of the President “that we push not just the interests of small and medium enterprises but also the more numerous micro-enterprises, including our small farmers, fishers and agribusiness entrepreneurs – reflecting our objective of fostering all-inclusive growth.”
He added: “Their influence and contribution to the outcomes of these policy dialogues is marked and I am proud of their substantive contributions.”
The Department of Agriculture co-hosted the dialogue with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with Mr Alcala and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje Jr. sharing chairmanship duties in the sessions.
This year’s meetings included for the first time a session on blue economy, which refers to a development approach anchored on sustainable development and utilisation of marine resources and ecosystems in APEC region.
The Iloilo Plan of Action on Food Security and the Blue Economy consists of three very specific implementable pillars: 1) blue economy towards sustainable food supply chains for food security; 2) fish loss reduction for increased fish production; and, 3) agribusiness development for food security and inclusive growth.
Mr Alcala said the plan of action will operationalize and help realise the intent and goals of all of numerous APEC declarations on food security and the blue economy, including the Xiamen Declaration (2014) and Bali Declaration (2013).
“It is now the time to take the necessary actions of mutual interest and benefit to APEC Member-Economies,” Mr Alcala said.