MANILA, Philippines – Philippine tourism may have been affected by the August 23 Manila bus hostage incident but investments from China continue to pour into the country, including a P100-million agricultural venture from a giant agricultural firm.
AgriNurture, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Antonio Tiu said Chinese agricultural firm Beidahuang, Inc., is initially investing P100 million in the country and is expected to further invest up to P1 billion in the short term.
Tiu is also the interim CEO of Beidahuang Philippines Agro-Industrial Development Corp.
Tiu and officials of Beidahuang China, Inc., paid a courtesy call on Vice President Jejomar Binay following the courtesy call of Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao on the Vice President last Thursday.
He said that although the tourism industry may have been affected by the Manila bus hostage incident, trade and investments continue to grow, citing that flights from China are still packed with Chinese investors who want to do business in the Philippines.
“Wala pong kinalaman ang mga nakaraang mga problema dito sa negosyo,” Tiu said. [“Doing business has nothing to do with the (hostage taking) incident.”] “Activities of China in the Philippines are not just in tourism.”
“Naniniwala tayo na pagbutihin natin ang sarili natin dito, darating ang panahon magbabago rin yun kahit ang turismo. Pero sa larangan ng agricultura at komersya, siguradong tuloy-tuloy ang asenso,” he said. [“We believe that if we make ourselves better, the time will come that tourism will improve. But the area of commerce and industry continues to move forward.”]
Beidahuang China, Inc., has entered into a joint venture with Filipino firm AgriNurture. “In terms of resources, we have the support of the Chinese government and this is a very strong message that the Philippine-China relationship is growing stronger despite all (other issues brought about by the hostage incident),” he said.
“Through this joint venture company, we’re expecting to provide the necessities of farmers so they can be one of the wealthiest sectors in the country. In the long run, when we experience food shortage, agriculture is the way to go,” said Tiu.
“Agriculture is recession-proof and we expect more and more activity would be coming soon together with the entry of a giant company from China,” he added.
Initially, the joint venture has pegged in P100 million with the aim to develop 5,000 to 10,000 hectares of farmland together with the contract growers. Investment is expected to shoot up to P1 billion “in a short term.”
“We will keep on expanding because Beidahuang, Inc., is a publicly listed company, it is state-owned in China. The venture company is already set up, the demo farm has been identified, we’re just waiting for PhilRice to approve the hybrid rice seedling that we could distribute to the farmers,” Tiu said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed his appreciation to Beidahuang, Inc., for choosing to invest in the Philippines.
According to Tiu, the initial site will be in Central Luzon and Mindanao but Tiu said they’re looking at other areas in the country to set up their demo facilities.
“Our purpose is to empower farmers by providing rice inputs, rice seedlings, rice fertilization, plant technology, and contract growing. We’ll buy back all the produce so there would be a growth in economic activities in the provinces,” Tiu said.
In China, Beidahuang, Inc., has more than one million employees, and has a rice plantation of one million hectares with a capacity to produce rice of more than two million metric tons (MT) in China alone. Its revenue was US$7-billion last year.
“Right now, the (Philippines’) national average (for producing rice is) 3.8 to 3.9 MT per hectare that’s why we’re experiencing rice shortage and only about five percent of our farmers are using hybrid rice,” Tiu said, citing lack of expertise in using the technology and lack of farm inputs.
“The entry of Beidahuang Phils. would be a big boost to the agricultural sector and in partnership with AgriNurture, we can create a huge potential,” he said, citing food security and economic growth.
Madel Sabater, Manila Bulletin