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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Business leader calls for Philippine palm oil deve

(Asia Intelligence Wire) 09/13/2002 - Key players of Mindanao's palm oilindustry should formulate a development plan to expand the emergingsector, which offers opportunities for growth and development.This was noted by Senen Bacani, former Agriculture secretary and chair ofFilipinas Palm Oil Industries, Inc., at the recently concluded 11thMindanao Business Conference in Surigao City.He said in most businesses, the overall effort to develop the industrywill have to be private sector-led, with the government providing thenecessary support.At present, palm oil accounts for 25% ,or 22 million metric tons (MT), ofthe world's total vegetable oil supply, next to soy bean oil. Coconut oilonly accounts for four percent of the total.The world's two biggest palm oil producers are Malaysia and Indonesia,with total planted area exceeding three million and two million hectares,respectively.In the Philippines, only less than 20,000 hectares are currently plantedto oil palms. More than 300,000 hectares of land in Mindanao have beenidentified by the Southern Philippines Development Authority as possibleareas for palm oil production.Mr. Bacani said industry stakeholders must consider validation at theground level, and should address industrial concerns such as soilsuitability, climate, necessary infrastructure and availability offinancing schemes.Another factor is the whole chain from seed to shelf. Industry playersmust have access to good seeds, particularly the more recently developedhigher-yielding varieties.Mr. Bacani said although suitable lands may exist, project proponents mustconsider the possibility these lands may have been occupied by communitiesthat need to be organized and mobilized.He also identified the need for equity financing from local and foreigninvestors, noting a substantial investment is needed since oil palm is along-gestating crop, which bears fruits three years after planting."Currently, only 33% of the country's palm oil consumption is producedlocally," he said. "In order to produce the country's total domesticrequirement by 2010, we need at least 70,000 hectares of palmoil-producing farms."In the next three to four years, he said the country needs to plant anadditional 50,000 hectares, besides replanting a significant number of theexisting hectarage which was planted about 20 years ago.A desirable food crop with a wide variety of household and industrialuses, oil palm requires lesser production cost compared to coconut oil.Although it is only placed second to soy beans in terms of world vegetableoil supply, the industry has huge potential to become the leadingvegetable oil in the world.Market opportunities for oil palm exist both domestically andinternationally.Domestic demand for palm oil is projected to increase by five percentannually from 1995 to 2015, and may reach 82,000 MT by 2000.By 2010, the country's total demand is expected to reach about 134,500 MT,and about 171,700 MT by 2015.

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