PAPUA New Guinea and the Philippines will jointly promote cooperation in rice production under agreements recently signed in Manila.

Philippines Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Pinol and PNG Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Benny Allen recently signed agreements to expand and strengthen bilateral relations in the area of agriculture on the occasion of the Official Visit to Manila of PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The two countries have agreed to jointly promote cooperation in the fields of agriculture and agro-industries, particularly in such areas as rice, grains and industrial crops production; aquaculture and inland fish farming; livestock breeding and improvement; and agri-business development.

Under joint cooperation in rice production, the two countries will look to build the capacity of PNG extension workers and farmer-leaders on rice and rice-based systems; on seed production technologies that involve preferred Philippine high-yielding rices and PNG varieties; and the deployment of trained Filipino rice farmers to establish rice farms in PNG.

Prime Minister O’Neill said the Philippine visit was a success and thanked the President of the Philippines for the ongoing strengthening of relations between the two countries, that is delivering benefits in education, agriculture and healthcare.

PM O’Neill said the major outcome to come from the visit is the reassertion of how close the Philippines is to Papua New Guinea, both in geography and in cultural characteristics.

“Our two countries have many similarities, in our governance and legal processes, in our approach to business and in our Christian values.

“The Philippines is a very community orientated country with respect for family and tradition.

“The islands of the Philippines also share very strong similarities with all island nations around the Pacific.

“Now as we increase our co-operation in areas such as agriculture and education, the bonds between our people will continue to grow.

“Papua New Guinea has a very close friend in the Philippines.

“We have had diplomatic relations for 43 years, but we have been friends for hundreds of years since Filipinos came with the missionaries.”