1st agri-biz summit held in Ecozone PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 March 2014 18:14

The ZAMBOECOZONE and Freeport Authority (ZFA) celebrated 19 years of investment service in Zamboanga with 3 days of festivities which commenced on the 21st of February and culminated with the commemoration of its 19th Charter Day Anniversary on February 23, 2014.

This year’s ZFA anniversary celebration was a three-faceted affair which aspired to encapsulate three of the many characteristics that defines the ZAMBOECOZONE – investment, progress, and community.

Highlighting the three-day celebration was the conduct of the 1st Agri-Business Summit on February 21, 2014, at the ZAMBOECOZONE Conference Hall in San Ramon.  The summit, dubbed “San Miguel Foods Inc. Agridev Program,” was organized in partnership with two of the zone’s locators, Ascent Feed Specialist Inc. (AFSI) and San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI).

The summit familiarized the over 150 guests and participants with San Miguel’s Cassava Assembler Program, and equipped them with the knowledge and ability for Cassava planting and processing, as well as farm planning and management.

Mr. Ken Christian Ramos, Technical Associate, San Miguel Foods, Inc., was the guest speaker during the summit. He presented San Miguel’s Cassava Assembler Program and discussed the process and requirements of the program.

Mr. Ramos also explained in detail the profitabilty of being a Cassava Assembler and the technical aspects of establishing and managing a cassava farm.

Mr. Jerome Asilom, Agritech, of SMFI, presented the San Miguel Hog Raising and Management Program to the enthusiastic participants. The presentation centered on the different hog breeds conducive to the Philippine climate and the requirements and techniques in establishing and managing a sustainable hog farm.

In his message, ZAMBOECOZONE Chairperson and Administrator Christopher Lawrence S. Arnuco presented the viability and profitability of being a Casava Assembler for San Miguel considering the huge demand of Processed Cassava that AFSI uses in the production of B-MEG Animal Feeds. “Ascent brought-in (Raw Materials) a total Php 540 million in their 6-month operation in 2013, you the participants can share in this by being a partner of San Miguel through their Cassava Assembler Program”, and “ZAMBOECOZONE and Freeport will be supportive of this endeavor and would welcome and facilitate the entry of as many farming estate locators to the zone for this purpose”, Chairperson Arnuco said.

Among the notable participants were Councilor Miguel C. Alavar III, chairman of the City Council’s Agriculture and Agrarian Relations Committee, Col. Jose Bayani Gucela of the Police Regional Office 9, Supt. Emmanuel Narvaez, Officer-In-Charge of the San Ramon Penal Farm; Mr. Myl Johann Amsid, Region 9 Cluster Head and Senior Manager of the Bank of the Philippine Island; Dr. Edilberto Salang, Dean, College of Agriculture of the Western Mindao State University; Mr. Jose Lobregat, proprietor of the New Traditions Agri Farm and Trading; and Mr. Celso Presa, Former Regional Manager of the Development Bank of the Philippines. A number of barangay officials from the west coast and representatives of various government agencies,  as well as several businessmen, farmers, land owners, and members of different cooperatives also participated in the summit.

During the open forum that ensued, the primary concern of the participants, particularly the farmers among them, was the procedure and requirements of forming a cooperative to qualify for the San Miguel Cassava Assembler Program . The technical and financial aspects for the establishment and management of a sustainable Cassava producing farm and processing facility was thoroughly discussed. One of the concerns that was raised during the open forum was the need and the possibility of financial assistance by San Miguel Corporation and the the various banking institutions in the city to assist the farmers in the initial development of their Cassava farms, considering that most farmers are not financially prepared to bankroll their own farms. The usual issues of the regular pricing and the reliability in the demand for Cassava produce was also discussed and addressed by Mr. Ramos when he explained that “the Philippines only produces less than 15% of the Cassava requirements of San Miguel and SMFI have remained the highest buying and biggest buyer of processed Cassava since 2004”.

A plant tour of AFSI facilities inside the ZAMBOECOZONE followed the Agri-Business Summit. The half-a-hectare AFSI manufacturing and storage facility produces 45,000 (50-kilogram) bags of animal feeds a month, which supplies all of Zamboanga Peninsula.

Jerus T. Cantones, Plant Head of SMFI said that “the (AFSI) manufacturing plant is operating way below its capacity but is constrained to maximize production due to the lack of raw materials”. “As the supply of raw materials increase, so will the production of Ascent increase”. “This is why more Cassava Assemblers are necessitated in the region to augment the raw material requirement of Ascent which in turn will increase their production and create additional employment, said Mr. Marco Paulo Mercado, Plant Manager of Ascent Feed Specialist Inc.

Dr. Salang hailed the efforts of Chairperson Arnuco and the ZAMBOECOZONE and Freeport Authority for successfully conducting the Agri-Business Summit, which in turn solicited an announcement from the chairperson Arnuco that more agri-business summits and similar events at the ZAMBOECOZONE are in the pipeline for 2014.