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Saudi firm eyes vast hectares of Manila rice field
Published: 10 May 2012
Posted in:  Philippines | Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Gazette | 10 May 2012

JEDDAH - A Saudi company is seeking joint venture agreement with the Philippine government for large-scale rice production, Manila Bulletin reported Wednesday.

Dr. Khalid Abu Al-Saud of Dar Al-Maskukat Trading in Riyadh, through a letter dated April 1, 2012, said the proposal for the long-term land lease of up to 200,000 hectares of rain-fed government land and private farms is targeted for the production of 1.2 million metric tons (MMT) of rice for the Saudi market.

The letter was coursed through Dr. Eduardo C. Sison, chairman of the Madecor Group of Los Baos, Laguna.

Dante Delima, assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture (DA) and coordinator of the National Rice Program (NRP), has already endorsed to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala a proposal to create a technical working group (TWG) to study the matter.

Saudi Arabia heavily favors basmati rice varieties, the very same varieties that the Philippine Department of Agriculture is now seeking to propagate in at least 10 rice-producing provinces nationwide.

In response to Al-Saud's letter, Alcala's letter dated May 7, 2012 said: "We share your enthusiasm toward this project, considering that such a joint venture will definitely boost our farmers' income and provide opportunities to modernize their production and post-harvest capabilities."

He added: "We recognize that in the long run, this partnership could result in a mutually beneficial arrangement for both our countries as we cope with the international realities of food scarcity."

Alcala also told Al-Saud that the proposal will be considered in the light of the special rice varieties required by Saudi consumers and "the availability of large tracts of land that can be leased on a long-term basis."

The joint venture offer could spur the production of basmati rice varieties, three of which are now being propagated, with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) developing the seeds for distribution to rice farmers.

Source: Saudi Gazette

As a landowner/farmer myself, it is my firmly belief that once this project will push through it will give farmers a rare chance to have their own source of income, with the hope of course that the yearly or monthly lease contract will be a competitive price design to uplift the woes of farmers. The recent decision of the supreme court in hacienda luisita case where the former decided in favor of the latter is in accordance with " revolutionary justice" that once and for all farmers should own their land they are tilling; however the saddest reality is that once farmers own the land they till, where would they get their capital to develop their land? utmost they will bite the bait offered by traders who will offer them their capital and yet at the end IT WILL BE A CONTINUOUS CYCLE where farmers will remain poorer and then trader/ capitalist are the one getting richer. I could not forget my cousin just recently planted corn in his farm land and with no capital he decided to borrow money to a certain trader and during harvest time the trader earns double than the real farmer...my point is FARMERS DESERVE ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES FROM THE GOVERNMENT AS WELL TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND THIS IS A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT...WELCOME TO THE PHILIPPINES...REST ASSURED THAT ITS MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES AND WE WILL ASSURE POTENTIAL INVESTORS THAT FILIPINO FARMERS ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD!
jerome r. asperin

Posted on 11 May 2012

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