MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. welcomed Tuesday the plan of Thailand conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) to invest about USD2.5 billion (PHP140.8 billion) to further boost the Philippines' agriculture sector.
The investment pledge was discussed when Marcos met with officials of CP Group, led by its chairman Soopakij Chearavanont, at Malacañan Palace in Manila, Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil said.
Garafil said the CP Group's expansion plans involve the use of new technologies, covering swine (USD1.3 billion), poultry (USD280 million), shrimp (USD800 million), and food (USD120 million).
During the meeting, Marcos said the CP Group's goal of bringing "state-of-the-art" technology to the country is what he wants to be replicated in the Philippines.
“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 CP Group executives, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
“Learning new things and applying new things, that's the only way I think to compete as well. CP Group has done so well... to be a state-of-the-art company."
During the meeting, the CP Group sought the Marcos administration's assistance in locating suitable land covering about 400 hectares for aquaculture (shrimp) and 300 hectares for swine and poultry, including eggs.
The group also wants the use of modern technology to fulfill the whole upstream and downstream raw materials up to the finished product for the market and future exports.
Marcos said the country also 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,” he 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.”
Acknowledging the government's role to support the private sector's initiatives, Marcos said he would discuss with other stakeholders the viability of putting together a project that would boost the production and resiliency of the agriculture sector.
Marcos vowed to keep the momentum in agriculture and “move forward," as he cited the non-mechanization as a reason for the country's failure to continue the process of consolidation to improve systems.
“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. “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 CP Group executives first met with Marcos during his November 2022 visit to Thailand.
The CP Group is now a leading holding company in Thailand, holding investments in 21 countries and economies worldwide, operating through more than 200 subsidiaries, and employing more than 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.
Present during Marcos' meeting with the CP Group were business tycoons Sabin Aboitiz and Francis Chua, as well as officials and representatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines.
Philippine officials who attended the meeting were Garafil, Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs Frederick Go, House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez, and Deputy House Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (PNA)