Pangilinan eyes agri ventures
Keen on going into sugar, banana production in PHBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HONG KONG—The group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is keen on investing in Philippine agriculture, particularly in the production of cash crops, particularly sugar and bananas.
In the Earth’s Resources Conference held here, the chief of regional conglomerate First Pacific Co. Ltd. said the group was keen on agriculture. However, he said it was unfortunate that while the farm sector accounted for the largest component of Philippine labor, its contribution to gross domestic product remained very small.
Over the years, the Philippines has generated the bulk of its domestic output from services.
“We’ve always been interested in agriculture, basically palm oil, rubber and coffee,” Pangilinan said. “But these do not really exist in the Philippines and it’s sad.”
“That’s (agriculture) one area that the country needs to focus on,” he said.
First Pacific’s Indonesian-focused unit, Indofood Agri Resources Ltd. (IndoAgri), is the No. 3 palm oil company in the world but nearly all of its production is consumed locally. It seeks to grow further by exploring export markets.
In the Philippines, First Pacific is looking at sugar and bananas but not at the scale of IndoAgri.
Pangilinan told reporters that if and when First Pacific would decide to enter the agribusiness sector in the Philippines, it would probably focus first on plantation. He added that the group had started talks with some banana growers in the country but had yet to find prospects for sugar.
While the focus would be on plantation, he said the group would need a good distribution channel overseas. As such, he said First Pacific would need to get an overseas partner if it decides to enter this business.
Pangilinan said he would like as partner “someone with ground distribution capability” to be able to sell the bananas.
Asked whether First Pacific would likely come up with something tangible on agriculture this year, he said: “We hope so.”
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