PH, Israel agree on enhanced agriculture, water management collaboration

The Philippines and Isreal agreed on a strengthened partnership in agriculture, water management, as well as in establishing direct flights between the two countries, following a meeting on Monday by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

During a meeting in Malacañang, Cohen told the President that his country can work with the Philippines on agriculture to ensure food security.

“I think that we can work together on the segment of agriculture. I just let you know that our land, 60 percent of our land is desert. But although 60 percent of our land is desert, we were able to provide all our water needs,” Cohen said, suggesting that the two nations open an agricultural hub to push the initiative.

“And I think that we can work together and let’s say that less import, more export for the Philippines. And I think that we can work together.”

Aside from agriculture, Cohen said the Philippines and Israel can also collaborate on water management, noting Israel’s vast experience in this sector.

Because of water scarcity, Israel has been reusing large portion of its water resources and it can share its experience in water management with the Philippines, he said, suggesting that an Israeli expert can visit the Philippines to provide advice.

For his part, President Marcos said he considers agricultural development as very important for the nation, as he expressed admiration for Israel’s advancement in agriculture.

The President said he was glad the Israeli official brough up the issue because agriculture has been the Philippines’ priority particularly in improving the economy.

“Because when we look at the economy as hard to just test, we said how do we fix the economy. It always comes down to agriculture first, how to fix every policy, then everything else would be great. So that’s the position that we find ourselves in,” he said.

“So, the offers that you make for assistance and partnership in those two areas are very, very welcome.”

In terms of water management, the Philippines, he said, is looking at Israel and Singapore for best practices that the country can imitate.

In addition to agriculture and water management, Cohen raised the issue of establishing direct flights between the Philippines and Israel to boost tourism and economic ties.

“There’s another thing that we, both of us, took for an action item – (it) is to have a direct flight… your external sea between Israel and the Philippines,” Cohen said referring to his earlier meeting with Filipino officials.

“And I think that we agree that both ministries will work together to have the direct flight and this is also to bring more business people to come to invest and reach the place between us. So this is also another important action item that we will do.” PND