Through Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer
For years, the history of the Philippines has been about growth and development. Dubbed Asia’s next ascendant tiger, the country’s economic narrative had shattered expectations with its rapid and continued expansion. Then the pandemic struck. In the future, the question on everyone’s mind is how to get back to such a state of growth and get back on the road to recovery. According to the World Bank, agriculture could be the key.
“Modernizing the country’s agricultural sector is a very important program for the Philippines,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, in a September 2020 report titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During COVID-19 and Beyond.“
“With the exception of a few small, resource-rich countries, no country has successfully transitioned from middle-income to high-income status without successfully transforming its agrifood systems. Transforming agriculture and food systems is always a challenge. But the country’s new vision for agriculture, its current trend towards diversification and the use of modern technologies, and its effective management of the food supply during this pandemic make it clear that the country is well equipped to meet the challenge. “, he added.
The report, which was prepared as part of the World Bank’s support for the Ministry of Agriculture’s “new thinking” on agricultural development, goes on to explain how the transformation of Philippine agriculture into a dynamic sector in the future. strong growth is essential for the country to accelerate the recovery. , poverty reduction and inclusive growth. The modernization of the industry could further lead to the improvement of the overall resilience, competitiveness and sustainability of the rural sector.
Agro-industrial zones already exist across the country to take advantage of this opportunity. These zones are accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and are created to support the agricultural sector and continuously create ways to develop communities through different programs for farmers and crop producers. PEZA grants accreditation to developers of agro-industrial parks and, through this, offers several incentives to its locators, such as tax exemptions and other exemptions.
Agro-industrial parks are industrial zones that process, store and manufacture agricultural products for food and non-food production, with the main function of a business center for the agricultural industry in a specific location. It stimulates the development of the agricultural industry through manufacturing from agronomic production to food processing.
In addition, an agro-industrial park is an excellent opportunity for investors to implement projects on its site using its infrastructure and services.
“Agro-industrial clusters offer several opportunities for the economic and inclusive growth of the country, from farmers to businesses. They take advantage of the country’s abundance of natural resources, rich lands and raw materials which may differ in many parts of the Philippines. These are the main sources of income for Filipinos, ”Ricardo F. Lagdameo, president of Damosa Land, Inc. and Anflo Industrial Estate, said in an email.
“Agribusiness parks that can provide full facilities, including even a cold storage facility and direct access to a world-class container terminal, have the potential to fill gaps in the supply chain of the industry. We aim to stimulate rapid development and economic growth in the countryside through developments like this, ”he added.
Mr Lagdameo said modern industrial parks are excellent catalysts for economic development and attract businesses to meet the demands and demands of several industries, a boon for rural communities that depend on agriculture as an economic output.
For example, the Anflo Industrial Zone offers businesses and investors the opportunity to locate in the heart of the Davao region with many tools, support facilities and services needed for agro-food processing and manufacturing.
Mindanao, it should be noted, is nicknamed the “Philippine food basket,” largely producing 40% of the country’s food needs and 30% of the national food trade. Davao’s agricultural products are exported to countries like China, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States. Park locators export products such as bananas, coconuts, cocoa and rubber and provide farmers with ample opportunities to market their products.
“Agribusiness is considered one of the top 10 priorities for the Davao region. Its vast cultivated land is suitable for various investments in agribusiness and addresses food security issues in the country while preserving sustainable development by creating jobs and income for its community. Its integration with industrial real estate means opportunities for the local farmer for companies from different industries, ”said Mr. Lagdameo.
The potential of agro-industrial hubs for rural development will further support government efforts to decentralize Metro Manila and direct investors to the provinces, thus contributing to financial inclusion.