THE commercial shipment of fresh okra to the Republic of Korea has started with the initial exportation of 1,200 kilograms of said agricultural product.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar together with Trade Secretart Ramon Lopez and Philippine Okra Producers and Exporters Association (POPEA) chairperson Roberto Amores led the sending off of the fresh okra last Sunday at the Philippine Airlines Cargo Terminal.
Dar said the initial exportation of fresh okra to Korea marks a milestone for local farmers and agri-entrepreneurs.
“This will really strengthen our efforts to support the high-value crops not only for local consumption but for exports. Export development and promotion is one of our key strategies in the DA so that the farmers and agripreneurs involved will have more income at the end of the day. The quality of produce will be maintained, and the volume will be there because of consolidated farming,” Dar stressed.
Amores disclosed that reorders are expected soon as promotions are aggressively pushed by the DTI and DA in Korea together with the private sector groups of POPEA, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT), and the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc. (PHILFOODEX).
“Harvest period of fresh okra starts from mid-October until mid-June. The opportunity to sell fresh okra is almost the same for both Korea and Japan due to their similar weather pattern and off-season period, where Philippine origin is in good timing for the production schedule,” Amores said.
The okra shipment, which is the first of three shipments before the season ends, is expected to arrive in Korea within 36 hours to maintain its quality and freshness.
Producers of fresh okra for export to Japan and Korea strictly comply with the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements and Good Agricultural Practices to ensure product safety and quality. Traceability codes and date of packing are also indicated in each pack of exported okra.
Meanwhile, Lopez said the new trade with Korea becomes part of the country’s recovery plans and will contribute to its export growth. He also committed to push for the reduction of tariffs on selected agricultural products imported by Korea including okra, mango, banana, and pineapple.
Currently, the Hi-Las Marketing Corporation and Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise are the two accredited okra exporters to Korea, but the new market is expected to generate opportunities for more local farmers and exporters.
The said POPEA member companies involve about 500 clustered farmers in Tarlac for the production of export-quality okra products. Other POPEA members are the AAMC Foods Corporation and Greenstar Produce Phils., Inc.
“We would like to congratulate this partnership and we will continue to always nurture the private sector-led agri-industrialization strategy. Kami sa Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka ay happy at gusto po namin na mas marami pang mga farmers ang ma-involve dito sa exports sa South Korea,” Dar added.