Negros, a Model of Agribusiness Resiliency

Just last year, through Executive Order 183, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental were brought together to form the Negros Island Region (NIR). The new region was established to improve the implementation of infrastructure development in order to accelerate and maximize benefits from the region’s natural resources andits potentials as an integrated business hub, with new growth areas and better economic opportunities for all Negrenses.

The island region’s agriculture industry has proven itsresiliency in the face of ASEAN competition for both provinces.  According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics through the Philippine Statistics Authority, in 2014, they had a combined production of 14.6 million metric tons (MT) of sugarcane, 271,000 MT coconut, 161,000 MT banana, 92,000 MT saba banana, 30,000 MT sweet potato and 54,000 MT cassava. The island region also has a sizeable combined production for hogs at 86,743 MT in 2015.

In its aquaculture industry, notable gains were seen in the value of their production of milkfish, tilapia, prawns, white shrimp, catfish, grouper, oyster, mussel and seaweed. Its inland municipal fisheries has seen stable value and production of eel, mullet and spade fish as well as blue and mud crabs. Its commercial fisheries has also seen steady production, particularly for big-eyed scad, frigate and yellowfin tuna, Indian mackerel and sardines, fimbriated sardines, threadfin bream, roundscad and squid.

Antonio V. Roces, president of the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development, said, “Agriculture employs around 30% of the whole workforce for each province, so a robust agricultural industry is essential. It is a means of enhancing competitiveness and innovations in research and development, and generating employment and income that underpin sustainable livelihood for the farmers and fisherfolks. Agribusiness in particular plays an important role in designing and implementing viable regional and export-oriented industries that can create lucrative opportunities in value-added goods and services.”

Agribusiness has been identified in the island region as a focal area for infrastructure support, trade promotion and investment. For instance, the island region is a major producer of sugar, accounting for two thirds of the country’s total output. Complemented with over 12 milling facilities, distilleries and refineries, the regions’ sugar industry has also diversified into various value-added products such as acetylene, which is used in heavy industries, as well as fertilizers, bio-plastics, ethanol, beauty products, rum, molasses and vinegar.Another of its by-product, bagasse, is currently utilized by many milling facilities such as those from First Farmers Holdings, Hawaiian Philippine Co., Victorias Milling Co. and Universal Robina Corp. to commercially generate and dispatch electricity catering to nearby regions and provinces.

The island is also at the forefront of organic agriculture. According to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) National Organic Agriculture Program, over 16,000 hectares of land are already being utilized to produce organic produce, from the famous Mt. Kanlaon coffee to gourmet rice,muscovado sugar, mango, papaya, squash fruit, lettuce, pork cuts and various herbs. To support the industry, the DA has earmarked PhP207 million, with Php7M already planned for production support services such as market development, training and education, and distribution of organic fertilizer as well as rice and vegetable seeds for lowland and upland areas in both regions.

Roces added, “The region’s foray into various agribusiness activities reflects how they are consistently expanding transformative partnerships with all related stakeholders while improving production and trade capacities as well as ease of access to finance. Its integrated approach to sustain and strengthen the growth of their own local enterprises in today’s globalized market makesit a model of resiliency and agricultural innovation.”

From October 6 to 8, the country’s largest and most influential trade exhibit on agriculture, food and aquaculture will be held at the World Trade Center (WTC). The triple exhibit, comprising Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink, has for its theme “Negros, a Model of Agribusiness Resiliency.” It highlights the sturdiness and the strength of the agricultural industries of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental through an improved and integrated focus on the chain of agribusiness activities—from production inputs, the use of new and appropriate technologies, value adding, market diversification, strategic product development, retailing, and marketing.

Supported by the DA, its regional units and allied agencies, as well as co-organized by over 30 agribusiness and food organizations, Agrilink 2016 will feature local and international products and technologies at the expanded exhibit area of the WTC.  This 23rd edition of Agrilink will as usual offer free entrance to the exhibit and feature live animal and plant displays as well as seminars, technical workshops and investment forums.

The three day event will provide easy access to the largest array of the latest and the best agricultural equipment, inputs, technologies, products and services. The exhibit will likewise provide a venue for the biggest gathering of high level leaders of the local and international agribusiness and food sectors that attend as participants and/or resource persons. For more information about Agrilink, contact FRLD at 8384491, 8384605, 2164016, and 09175888799, email frld.agrilink@gmail.com, or visit www.agrilink.org or facebook.com/agrilinkPH.