Emirates 24/7 | 5 March 2011
By VM Sathish
Investors from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain are currently planning to inrease investment in the agriculture sector of the Philippines as part of their government’s food security programmes.
Speaking to 'Emirates 24|7', Jose MAS Dinsay, Commercial Attache, UAE and Qatar, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, said: “Saudi Arabia is coming in a big way to invest in agricultural projects in the Philippines. The joint venture agro production projects will attract GCC investors who have capital and fertilisers, a major bye product of the petroleum industry in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oil producing Gulf countries.”
Jose said Davo, located in the Mindano region of the Philippines, is a major agricultural centre, mainly producing rice and bananas.The principal crops of Dova province include rice, maize, banana, coconut, abaca, ramie, coffee and a variety of fruits and root crops.
Saudi investors are investing in a joint ventures to produce basmati rice, yellow corn, bananas and pineapple in about 5,000 hectares in the Davao Del Narte province of Philippines, an area free from major natural calamities such as typhoons and floods, he said. The projects are usually 60-40 joint ventures, he added.
“Negotiations are on with a major Saudi company to set up a major aquaculture project in our country over 1,000 hectares of land,” he added. Saudi investors are also keen to start poultry farms in the Philippines, he added.
Davao del Norte is the country's leading producer of bananas, with many plantations run by food multinationals like Dole, Del Monte and local producers such as Lapanday, TADECO and Marsman.
Davao del Norte is also one of Mindanao's leading producer of rice and a fishing hub of the country. Many leading banana multination’s have been reportedly quitting Davos because they have been paying very low prices to farmers and making huge profits by reselling them in the international markets.
Gil B Herico, Agriculture Attache, Philippine Consulate, Dubai, said negotiations have been going on between the Phlippines and the UAE to increase food production, as part of the overall food security campaign in the region.
"Bahrain currently produces bananas in 1,000 hectares of land in the Philippines and Kuwait investors are looking at 1,000 acres for rice cultivation,” he added.
"Our Governments strategy is to become self sufficient in rice production within three years and we are keen to join hands with the GCC investors who have enough capital and other resources for commercial cultivation,” he added.
“One major factor that our government is considering is the fertiliser supply from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. These investors can also bring capital intensive machinery to improve garniture yield,” he added.
Marino S Samar, from the Department of Agriculture, Philippines, said the country’s export to the region has been growing at 15 per cent and the main export items are food and beverages consumed by the large number of Philippino community in the region, apart from textiles, healthcare products and fashion accessories.
"Our biggest export to the region is the skilled manpower, especially professionals, who work in the service industry, oil and gas and other sectors," he added.
Many of our engineers are working in the GCC oil fields, said Dorius U Gacho, from the Department of Trade and Industry, Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions.
He said the Middle East market has been important for the Philippines food and agriculture exporters and Dubai has been a gate to the Middle East North Africa market. "Our ethnic food and other delicacies have a ready market in the GCC and are gradually finding their way to the mainstream market. The halal certified meat products from the Philippines suit the Muslim population here,” added Dorius.
“This year we have 22 companies form the Philippines participating in Gulfood 2011. The Department of Agriculture Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, DA-AMAS plays a key role in promoting agricultural and fish products in the overseas market.
The food companies from the Philippines present in Gulfood includes ANI AgriNature |Inc, Sagana Delights, Branded Exports, Celebs, FCG Trading Phils, Inc, Florence Foods Corp, Foodsphere Inc, Gem Foods International Inc, Global88 International Trading Corporation, HiLas Marketing Corporation, Kwality PhilFood Inc, Laura’s Food Products Corporation, Magic Melt Foods Inc, Marikina Food Corporation, Market Reach International Resources Corp, MEGA Fishing Corporation, Oceanic Exports, Philippine Grocers Food Exports Inc, Profood International Corporation, QPhil Products International, Rdex Food International and Universal Canning Inc.