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Sumitomo bullish on PH rice production

/ 08:38 AM November 18, 2013

The government’s efforts to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice production put the country in Sumitomo Chemical group’s list of priority markets, particularly for its herbicides.  INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The government’s efforts to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice production put the country in Sumitomo Chemical group’s list of priority markets, particularly for its herbicides.

Industry figures show that the domestic herbicide market is valued at between P1 billion and P1.5 billion yearly.

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Group officials said its local unit, Sumitomo Chemical Philippines Inc. has shown “very strong” growth since it was established in 2008.

Lawrence Yu, head of Sumitomo Chemical’s health and crop sciences business in South Asia Pacific, said in an interview the Philippines is considered among the company’s key markets, particularly because rice production has become a very important topic in the country.

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“The Philippines used to be the world’s top rice importer and now it is almost self-sufficient (in rice production), although not yet,” Yu said.

He said that with the government’s push for rice self-sufficiency, Sumitomo Chemical’s growth opportunity here is “immense.”

Yu did not elaborate, but based on the company’s financial results for the fiscal year that ended last March 31, shipments of herbicides and other crop-protection products rose, especially in overseas markets, due to increased production capacity and sales expansion.

“The Philippine herbicide market is changing very fast [as farmers] are looking for safer, better performing and economical products,” Yu said.

“We expect very good growth in the coming years,” he said, adding that a main driver of growth is the roll-out of products that were developed through the company’s research initiatives.

On Friday, Sumitomo Chemical launched in the Philippines its “Zeta One” herbicide, which is said to be able to remove even the most resilient and prevalent kinds of weeds in irrigated rice paddies.

According to Kimitoshi Umeda, general manager of the marketing department at Sumitomo International’s crop protection division, the Philippines is only the fourth country where Zeta One was introduced.

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The product—rolled out initially in Japan and then in South Korea and Vietnam—is being imported into and distributed in the Philippines by Leads Agricultural Products Corp.

“It is good timing for this [product] introduction considering the Philippines’ efforts to attain self-sufficiency,” Umeda said. “This herbicide can benefit the country and the farmers with lower labor cost [related to weeding] and increased yield.”

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TAGS: Agriculture, Business, herbicide, Philippines, rice production, sumitomo
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