President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday hailed the Bangkok-based business conglomerate which is planning to invest some US$2.5 billion in agricultural technology development in the country.
Officials of Charoen Pokphand Group (C.P. Group) led by its chairman Soopakij Chearavanont paid a courtesy call in Malacañang telling President Marcos of the company’s use of new technologies that it has been incorporating to boost the value of the agricultural sector.
For its expansion plans and business integration in the Philippines, the C.P. Group plans to invest US$2.5 billion from 2023 to 2027, covering swine (US$1.3 billion), poultry (US$280 million), shrimp (US$800 million), and food (US$120 million).
“We’re very impressed with the new technologies that you use. I remember you told me that each plant farm you build is different from the last one because you immediately incorporate and adopt new techniques in technology,” Marcos told the C.P. Group executives, saying that it is the type of progression that he wants to be replicated in the Philippines.
In November 2022, C.P. Group officials met with President Marcos during his visit to Thailand, during which the company pledged to make additional investments in the Philippines.
The C.P. Group officials offered to bring in the state-of-the-art technology to fulfill the whole upstream and downstream raw materials up to the finished product for the market and for future exports.
Marcos said they would have to discuss with other stakeholders the viability of putting together a project that would also boost the production and resiliency of the agriculture sector in the country.
“We will discuss amongst ourselves with all the others, those who will be helping put together the project. We will certainly see what is the most ideal way,” the President said.
Marcos also pointed out that the government has a vital part to play in implementing the project and keeping the momentum his administration has made in agriculture “moving forward.”
“We know that the government has a part to play. It’s not only the private sector partner. The government has a part to play to support the program and that’s something that we have to decide,” he added.
“Learning new things and applying new things, that’s the only way I think to compete as well. C.P. Group has done so well…to be a state-of-the-art company.”
The President also pointed out the country has the raw materials and a good labor force to complement available technology to boost the value chain in the agriculture sector
“Even in terms of the ecosystem of agronomists and agriculturists, experts in fisheries, experts in rice, in broiler production… we have many people who are very, very good. It’s the system that we need,” Marcos said.
“They’re not working independently as if the other parts of the system don’t exist. That’s more or less where we find ourselves. Now…I suppose we could start from where we are and try to just keep improving,” he added.
Marcos also recalled a time the Philippines was exporting rice to other countries. “That’s why now we’re trying to catch up. So yes, we, I’m sure we can. I’m sure that there has to be a way… to get all the lessons that have been learned by not only you, but everyone around the world,” he said.
“I keep explaining to everybody that agriculture is not about planting and putting seeds into the ground. That’s just a small, small, small part of it. It’s a system. It’s the research and development; it’s the mechanization,” the President said, saying that non-mechanization is the reason the country has not been able to continue the process of consolidation to improve systems.
The C.P. Group is now a leading holding company in Thailand. It holds investments in 21 countries and economies worldwide, operating through more than 200 subsidiaries, and employing over 300,000 people.
It operates across eight business lines: agro-industry and food; retail and distribution; media and telecommunications; e-commerce and digital; property development; automotive and industrial products; pharmaceuticals; and, finance and investment.
During the meeting, the company officials requested government assistance in locating suitable land covering 400 hectares for aquaculture (shrimp) and 300 hectares for swine and poultry, including eggs.
Among the officials who attended the meeting with C.P. Group executives were Speaker Martin Romualdez, Deputy House Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Frederick D. Go, Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs.
Private sector attendees included Sabin M. Aboitiz and Francis Chua, officials and representatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines. (PND)