The Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) recently approved the application for registration of Roxas Sigma Agri Ventures Inc. as a new export pioneering producer of various coconut products under the export activities of the current Investment Priorities Plan (IPP).

The firm got the pioneering brand as endorsed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on account of the plant utilizing proprietary processes with the latest technologies and state-of-the-art equipment never before used domestically in the production of high value coconut products.

The Php830.5 million project involves the establishment of an integrated coconut processing plant in Tupi, South Cotabato. Commercial operations formally began January 2017, providing employment to about 1,500 people.

The said category covers production/manufacture of non-traditional export products with an export requirement of at least 50 percent if Filipino-owned, and at least 70 percent if foreign-owned.

Coconut products to be produced are aseptic coconut milk with an annual capacity of 16.3 million (kgs), virgin coconut oil (2.1 million kgs/year) and coconut water concentrate (1.7 million kgs/year). Over 90 percent of these products will be exported to the United States, United Kingdom, China, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea.

The plant was designed by a local engineering company but it will tap equipment and technologies sourced from the United States, Italy, Germany, India, Thailand, and Malaysia.

We are excited about this project as it will increase coco farmers’ income because it makes possible the exports of high-value adding products; it utilizes pioneering technology as endorsed by DOST, it disperses growth in the countryside. Economic development in support the government’s peace process in conflict areas will support peace process and unlock potentials in Mindanao

“This will definitely boost the exports of our agriculture products given that the by-products of our coconuts are in demand in other countries,” said Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo.

The country is one of the largest coconut producers in the world. ”Given this inherent advantage, the government is stepping up efforts to promote the growth and development of the coconut industry,” said Undersecretary Rodolfo.

The agribusiness sector envisions transforming and upgrading the agriculture sector from traditional farming to agribusiness or industrial clusters to take advantage of opportunities in rubber, coconut, mangoes, bananas, coffee, palm oil, cacao, and other emerging high value crops.

The transformation of agricultural farming into a thriving agribusiness-driven sector entails acquiring farming technologies, training in more sophisticated farming techniques, creating stable supply chains, establishing transport and agricultural infrastructure, investing and research and development, and securing a reliable property rights regime. “These activities contribute not only in diversifying and increasing the value of agribusiness outputs but also add to the inclusive growth and rural development agenda of the Philippine government. The sector is also in a position to largely contribute in the industrial development of the economy,” Rodolfo said.

In a related development, Department of Trade &Industry and the Department of Agriculture have already agreed to integrate their respective agribusiness industry roadmaps to further strengthen and accelerate the development and growth of the industry.

The agriculture sector, as a whole, has been the second biggest employment contributor to total employment since 2008. The 2016 Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that agriculture cornered 27 percent of the total workforce, second behind the Services sector (56.4 percent) and followed by industry (16.7 percent).