MANILA – Agriculture has deep roots in the Philippines, but the country isn’t really a global or even an Asia-Pacific industry leader. One area where it has failed to maximize opportunities is the $20-billion vegetables market in the region, of which the Philippines only accounts for $240 million.
These data from Euromonitor were highlighted at a recent forum organized by East West Seed Company, which is looking to make the Philippines a top exporter of vegetable seeds.
According to Mary Ann Sayoc, general manager of East West Seed, the country’s dismal failure to attend to this market “should be a cause of concern for not only farmers but government because we are missing out on opportunities.”
Sayoc added, “we can look at the export market and export material. Instead of having to import we can export.”
East-West Seed Company said that factors such as limited production and a focus on other crops account for the Euromonitor data showing the Philippines only accounts for $240 million of the $2-billion Asia-Pacific vegetable market.
Sayoc pointed out that there are still many underserved markets in the Philippines. “I’m talking about island provinces and remote areas.”
The company is looking to raise market penetration for its high-yielding seeds from 65 percent to 70 percent, and also encourage more people to get into vegetable farming.
Its new “go grow” line featuring easy-to-grow vegetables and cultivation information is targeted at amateur farmers, though experienced growers are also expected to benefit from higher yields and increased competitiveness.
Bonifacio Sauli, project manager of East West Seed, is certain that the harvest will be bigger even for first-time users of ‘go grow.’
Meanwhile, East West officials also called for increased government interventions for the vegetable industry.
Sayoc said government can “provide the right policy environment and right environment.”
The DA said it has programs in place to assist vegetable farmers, ranging from training to marketing, and also credit facilities to support their businesses.
In a statement, Ranibai Dilangalen, DA undersecretary for special concerns, said the agency can provide training and the seedlings, as well as credit, “to augment and help them start their vegetable farming.”
Dilangalen said the government has various credit facilities, adding, “we can still help them market their produce.”