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One of Israel’s largest agriculture companies met with several Philippine agriculture companies to explore possible partnerships, specifically on agriculture technology. Israel’s Innovative Agro Industry (IAI) met with companies who are part of the Kapatid Angat Lahat sa Agri Program (KALAP) of Go Negosyo, led by founder Joey Concepcion.
The group from Israel was led by Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Ambassador Ilan Fluss, and IAI CEO LiorCrystal. The company specializes in agricultural technologiesfor rural development, including water, energy, telecom, health, and construction. It is an affiliate of the LR Group, which has undertaken over 100 projects worldwide and has over US$2.5 billion in capital investments in sustainable project development.
“This is about helping MSMEs, and among the MSMEs, the biggest challenge is really with those in agriculture,” said Concepcion. “We are pushing for access to technology and access to markets,” he said, adding that unless agricultural production in the country achieves scale, it would be difficult to entice banks to lend to small farmers. “It is the dilemma that we face. Scale is important, and how to achieve scale is the challenge,” he said.
Ambassador Fluss said that the Philippines “is a country whose potential in agriculture is unbelievable.” He also noted the need for developing strong local partnerships, and that the Philippines might do much better in agriculture than Israel did because of its tropical climate. Despite its challenging geography, Israel has used science to grow a thriving agricultural sector, making it a global leader in agricultural technologies and a significant exporter of fresh produce. “If you do it scientifically, if you do it commercially, [Philippine agriculture] has the potential to succeed big-time,” said Fluss.
Helping farmers achieve scale is one of the solutions put forward by KALAP, which was created to address challenges in making agriculture viable in the Philippines by bringing sustainable and inclusive business models to micro farmers, andforging partnerships and collaborations between government and the private sector.
IAI’s core strength, said Lior, is in bringing in Israeli technologies and implementing these in developing countries. He added that beyond providing technologies and best practices, it is looking at the Philippines as a long-term investment and already has a local project team in place in the country. “Our strategy in the Philippines is also to come in as equity partners and invest in places where we believe would make sense. We put our money where our mouth is,” he said. Since before the pandemic, IAI has set up a strategic partnership with a local company in dairy farming and greenhouse production.
In the meeting were top executives of the big-brother companies participating in KALAP, namely Toby Gatchalian of Metro Pacific Agroventures, James Amparo of Yovel East, Christian Moeller of Lionheart Farms, Francisco Dizon of Dizon Farms, Kennemer Foods’s Simon Bakker, Mat Maderazo of Planters Products, and Jojo Ocol of Agrabah, as well as Go Negosyo Senior Advisers Engr. Merly Cruz and Dr. William Dar.
Among the areas put forward for possible collaborations were dairy production; fertigation, distilling systems, and other technologies for high-value crops and commodities such as rice, corn, cutflowers, cacao, seaweed, and fruits and vegetables;water management; solar-powered desalination technologies;and regenerative farming, as well as sustainable and inclusive business models in the agriculture sector.