Singapore eyes more farm imports

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Singapore is looking to import more agricultural products from the Philippines to meet growing demand for fresh and processed food, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.

In an interview on the sidelines of the International Food Exhibition 2013, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that representatives from Singapore, led by Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) senior specialist Lam-Chan Lee Tiang, expressed intention for more agricultural imports from the country.

“This is a welcoming development, and we really want to capitalize on this,” Alcala said.

“We have the manpower and land area to produce quality food products. In fact, we have recorded surplus on certain items,” he said.

The DA chief added that he has tasked Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) Director Leandro Gazmin, Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito Barron, and High Value Crops Development Program Director Jennifer Remoquillo to identify viable crops that can be exported to the island-nation.

“We are just checking supply to ensure that it can be sustained. Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables, they also want processed food. We also have to get the packaging right,” Alcala said.
He told reporters that the group of Singapore buyers have visited Baguio City and are interested in importing upland vegetables.

“Tomorrow, the Singapore delegation will visit farms in Davao,” Alcala added.

The DA chief also assured that the government would provide viable arrangements with local producers to ensure stable supply, adding that the agency is studying possibility of incentives to farmers-exporters and even to Singaporean buyers. Among the new imports that Singapore buyers want are fruit products such as yellow dragon fruit and durian.

Alun Zhou, managing director of trade firm 101 Fruits, said that his company has been importing fruits such as durian from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia but wants to start sourcing the same from the Philippines.

Commercial Counsellor Glenn Penaranda of the Embassy of the Philippines (Singapore) said that the city-state presently imports about $100-million worth of food products from the Philippines.

Lim Xiu Qing Joyce, executive manager of overseas food supply of AVA, said that there is much room for growth since vegetable imports from the Philippines comprise only about 7 percent of the city-state’s imports while fruits comprise about 1 percent.

James Konstantin Galvez

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