The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday urged local and foreign investors to take advantage of the business-to-business strategies and exchange development opportunities under the Philippine Rural Development Program.
In his keynote address for this year’s Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) Southeast Asian Food Market Exhibit in Pasay City, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the event will serve as a venue to introduce the PRDP to various agriculture stakeholders to network and exchange ideas on agri-entrepreneurship.
“This is also an opportunity for our local agri-entrepreneurs to witness different practices in food production, processing and trading in different countries, and at the same time promote their products to foreign investors,” Alcala said.
Dubbed as Southeast Asia’s largest food exhibition with more than 500 exhibitors from 20 countries worldwide, the three-day SIAL-ASEAN is designed to give opportunity for the country’s food, agriculture and agribusiness industries to pitch their products to the world.
SIAL, which was first launched in Paris in 1964, said it has set the standards for worldwide food and retail industries. It recently expanded to different parts of the world including North and South America, the Middle East and Asia.
The event is organized by Paris-based Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire, and held alongside the Manila Foods and Beverage Expo (MAFBEX) between June 11 and13 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
Some 15, 000 visitors from Philippines and other parts of Asia are expected to attend this year’s exhibit.
Alcala said that the DA is expected to feature its new World Bank-funded PRDP, which aims to put up market-oriented interventions in the rural areas throughout the country.
The six-year PRDP program is expected to pool $671.59 million or about P28 billion from a loan portfolio of the World Bank and equity share of national and local government units.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country’s agricultural exports last year increased by 25 percent to $6.32 billion from $5.04 billion in 2012.
Coconut oil remained the biggest export earner at $950.55 million, followed by fresh bananas at $911.75 million, tuna at $664.86 million, and pineapple-based products with $416.8 million.
During that period, the country successfully reduced its agricultural trade deficit by 52.6 percent—from $3.13 billion in 2012 to US$1.48 billion in 2013 –as exports soared while imports dropped. PSA data also showed that farm and fishery imports from January to December fell by 4.5 percent to $7.8 billion.
“It is the first time for the Philippines to host the event. For a country that derives a significant part of its export earnings from agricultural commodities, SIAL ASEAN is a vote of confidence about the potential and prevailing dynamism of Philippine agriculture,” Alcala said.