03 August 2017
The economic blockade and the political scenario in the region is an opportunity to revisit how the Philippines can support Qatar on its food security strategy, an official of the Philippine Business Council-
Qatar (PBC-Q) has said.
PBC-Q chairman Greg Loayon said the Philippines has available plots of land that can be converted to economic zones to house food manufacturing plants or food processing facilities for Qatari investors.
“Qatar’s food requirements can be grown in the Philippines… and it is also tax-efficient and cost-effective for Qatar to do farming in the Philippines, and the output could be exported back to the Middle East,” Loayon told Gulf Times yesterday.
Citing the ongoing preparations for the ‘Qatar-Philippines Food Security Summit’ slated in September, Loayon said: “Qatar’s vision to be self-sufficient and to be able to provide for its populace from a food security perspective can be achieved by outsourcing its requirements from countries that have the natural resources to handle it.”
The summit will be hosted by Management Solutions Consultants (MSI) and is supported by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) and PBC-Q, according to MSI managing director Adel Sa’Adeh, who is also Peza special adviser to the director general for the Middle East.
Sa’Adeh said Peza had already held two investment roadshows in Qatar but those were mostly focused on retirement villages and tourism-related projects in the Philippines.
“Considering the economic situation in the country and the state’s focus on food security, we plan to introduce solutions in the field of agro-industry, which we believe would help address Qatar’s food security requirements,” Sa’Adeh pointed out.
“Because the Philippines is rich in fertile land, we want to open the door to Qatari investors who want to utilise such land for agriculture-related industries where they could produce and export foods,” he further said.
Loayon said, “The Philippine Business Council-Qatar is supporting the summit because we believe it is a good move; and if we look at a food security strategy, it has to be sustainable and long-term. The Philippines is a rich country in terms of agriculture, so it is important that the Philippines views Qatar as a renewed market for its agricultural products.”
Sa’Adeh said plans are under way to invite Qatar-based academic experts in the field of agriculture, major food importers and suppliers, farmers and other players in the fruit and vegetable sector, as well as the authorities concerned in the agro-industry.
Joseph Timothy Rivera, Peza consultant and special adviser to the director-general for the Middle East & Northern Europe, said the summit would bring resource speakers from the Philippines, particularly from the Department of Agriculture, International Rice Research Institute and Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre.
Rivera said Peza can provide incentives to Qatari investors who want to establish food manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. “The Peza can also declare these outsource farming projects or food processing plants as special economic zones,” he said.