Dutch expertise eyed for Northern Mindanao agri support

The private sector and the Dutch government will seek ways to increase the scope of their partnership to improve agricultural production technology in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao.

“Oro Chamber is keen in exploring opportunities for the establishment of Waste to Energy programs for greenhouses and also set up of incubation centers for agribusiness ventures,” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, regional governor for Northern Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

The Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber) led by President Robertino E. Pizarro and the PCCI met with Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines Marion Derckx last June 26 to explore areas of cooperation, particularly in agriculture.

“Our mission statement is to strengthen economic ties between the Philippines and the Netherlands, while contributing to inclusive development and a more sustainable world,” Derckx said in her talk during the Oro Chamber’s 2nd Quarter General Membership Meeting. 

“We look for opportunities where we not only make the entrepreneur richer but more people get good jobs and we contribute to a more sustainable world,” she added.

Derckx said she sees agriculture and agri-technology as the primary area where Dutch expertise can help ramp up Northern Mindanao’s agriculture production.

In 2017, the region’s value of production (at constant prices) increased 4.5% compared to the previous year. According to figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority in Region 10 (PSA-10), Northern Mindanao ranked third among the country’s 16 regions with a 9.6% share of the country’s gross output in agriculture.

It ranked first in pineapple production (1,554,637 metric tons and 11.7% share of the PH total); 2nd in bananas (1,930,062 MT/11.9% share); 2nd in poultry production (159,086MT/11.3% share); 2nd in root crops (736,546MT/2.1% share);  3rd in corn production (1,287,303MT/10.4% share); 3rd in coconut production (1,805,551MT at 4.5%) and 4th in pork production (188,448MT at 11.3%).

Region 10 also ranked 1st in crops production with an 11% share of the total national output; 3rd in livestock production with 8.1% share of the national output; 3rd in poultry production (8.9% share) and 6th in fisheries production (7.1% share).

Except for fisheries production which experienced a negative growth of -2.6% for 2017, the crops (+6.3%), poultry (+4.4%) and livestock (+3.7%) subsectors all experienced net growth for the period.

Agriculture also remained Region 10’s second major industry employer in 2017, employing 37.3% of the total labor force, 35.6% of whom were employed in the agriculture, hunting and sector sub-industry and 1.6% in fishing. Skilled agricultural forestry and fishery workers also ranked as the second ranked of the top 3 major occupation groups with 18.7%.

 “Holland is the world’s second largest agri-food exporter and the agri-food industry is among the top three contributors to the Dutch GDP with €50.2 billion (B) in added value, accounting for almost 10 % of Dutch economy and generating employment for 660,000 people,” Derckx said.

The Netherlands exports nearly $100 billion a year in agricultural products, second only to the United States. This sector also generated €94-B in agricultural (food and technology) in 2016, of which approximately 80% is exported to EU-member states

Due to limited land for agriculture and growing population, Derckx said the Netherlands is constrained to push for innovation, and this innovation is driven by the “Golden Triangle” of Research, Business and Government.

“Collaboration between government, private sector, research institutions, on national, regional and local level, originates from traditional cooperation in education, research and education, but now also creates frameworks for innovation.” 

“The Dutch agriculture sector intends to be the world leader in sustainable solutions in agriculture in 2020. It is too important not to be ambitious,” she said.

As an indication, drones and airplanes enable Dutch farmers to do more with less by giving them detailed pictures of which areas need more or less water, fertilizers or pesticides.

“Dutch farmers are constantly educated through government centers of information,” she stressed. “Thus, there is constant professional development across the whole value chain.”

Areas of cooperation

A research on how the Philippines and the Netherlands can cooperate has been completed and among the recommendations done by the study are the following. 

“Currently most of the meat in the Philippines is imported and a lot is coming from the Netherlands. There ample opportunities for raising livestock and poultry in the Philippines at home. As you saw from the data what we can do in Holland, you could really have more in the Philippines. Our horticulture, pork and dairy are far ahead of others.”

In a 2014 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the comparison of productivity between the two countries, Dutch farmers could produce yields of 156 eggs per layer compared to only 49; 7,800 kgs of milk per cow vs. 3,600 kgs., and 13.7 metric tons of corn per hectare compared to only 2.9 MT/ha. in the Philippines.

“Domestic feed mill production, hatcheries, poultry and livestock housing, slaughterhouses - of the 75 accredited slaughterhouses in the Philippines, only four have Triple-A status,” Derckx noted. “There is also a need for smaller slaughter houses to service distant areas so you should have small solutions like we have in the Netherlands.” 

Citing figures from the Department of Agriculture, the envoy said it is expected that by 2025, demand for chicken would rise by 50-60 percent and pork and beef probably 35 percent more. 

Already, the Netherlands established in partnership with the DA the ATI-International Training Center on Pig Husbandry in 1985 at Lipa City, Batangas to provide training for pig farmers.

Derckx also addressed the problem of properly transporting fresh produce to the consumers.

“About 70 percent of what farmers produce in the Philippines is lost on its way from the produce to consumer,” she said. “There are many things that can be done there and we are specialized in it [transporting fresh produce].”

Region 10’s agriculture is concentrated in Bukidnon (pineapple, sugar cane, banana, corn) and Lanao del Norte (rice, coconut) while its industries are mainly found in Misamis Oriental (Phividec Industrial Estate) and Iligan City.  

Over time, its services and industrial sectors have become vertically and horizontally integrated, leading to varying degrees of interdependence and autonomy.

For instance, many agricultural products produced in Bukidnon are processed in Cagayan de Oro or the Phividec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental before they are shipped out abroad or to markets in the Luzon or the Visayas. Changes which adversely affect a specific link in this supply chain would inevitably have repercussions downstream and upstream of the affected sectors.

Systems Orientation

Derckx said it’s not only agri-technology which can make a great difference in agricultural production but also the systems orientation of Dutch farmers.

“One example that would be great for the Philippines that I think is going to happen is not so much the technology but the way we work. We don’t sell individual machines but we talk whole concepts. You have to organize the whole community to process the waste in a certain way. In the Netherlands we are systems people, we look at full systems.”

She cited how greenhouses in Holland are sited next to industrial factories in closed loop systems to the carbon dioxide from the factories enable the greenhouse crops to grow much faster.

“Greenhouses are now complete closed loops of production with rainwater harvesting, with no need for pesticides, and full recycling. Ninety one percent of the waste in the Netherland is recycled, the rest we burn off and whatever we burn is turned into energy. So successful we even import waste from the U.K. so there is no waste anymore.”

[Photo: PIANorMin]