Japanese traders eye agri venture in Cebu

HIDDEN AGENDA - Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - November 26, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Many Japanese businessmen have expressed interest to venture into agriculture related business in the Philippines, particularly Cebu.

This after a 10-men delegation from the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), upon the invitation of the Philippines Friendship Society (HPFS), visited Hiroshima City, Japan early this month.

While there, the CCCI team presented about the business climate in Cebu at the Philippine Business Seminar.

"The Hiroshima visit paved the way for CCCI to see the many trade opportunities available between Japan and the Philippines specifically in the area of agriculture," said CCCI president Melanie Ng.

A trade partnership will be beneficial to both countries. While the Japanese learn from Filipino entrepreneurs especially in agri-business, the Filipinos, in turn, can learn the high-tech operational practices of the Japanese investors, Ng said.

"In fact,  we found out that Tsuneishi [in Balamban, Cebu], which is headquartered in Japan is also venturing into agriculture with the assistance of experts from Hiroshima University," Ng added.

"We hope to be able to find out more about this initiative so that we can learn and expand what they are doing for the benefit of our agriculture sector," the CCCI official said.

CCCI, Ng said, will constantly communicate with business organizations they were able to meet. The group expects to host more Japanese trade missions to visit Cebu in the next few months.

Aside from supplying virgin coconut oil, moringa (malunggay), and mangoes to the Japanese market, the Philippines is looking at exporting "okra" to Japan.

Earlier, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)  announced that it is looking at increasing the "Okra" production to take advantage of the projected US$100 million market in Japan.

PCCI is currently working with the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) on a technical assistance program on breeding high value crops, particularly Okra, as well as soybean Edamame vegetable, to catch up with the fast growing export demand.

At present, the Okra market in Japan stands at $15 million.  It is projected to grow to $100 million in five years. Okra is used mainly as a snack as well as an important ingredient for salads, soups, stir fry, or stews.

Edamame soybean’s market,  on the other hand, is expanding too. In the US alone it is placed at up to $200 million by American Vegetable Soybean & Edamame Inc. (FREEMAN)

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