Grow bananas, pineapple, palm oil instead of striving for rice sufficiency: economist-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
RATHER than working to be self-sufficient in rice, economist Bernie Villegas said the country should invest in planting more bananas, pineapple and palm oil to grow the export sector.
“We don’t have comparative advantage over other countries in terms of rice production.
Rice is water-intensive and we lack that requirement here. Instead we should use our land to plant high-value crops,” Villegas said during the UA&P Strategic Business Economic Program (SBEP) hosted by the UA&P/SBEP-Cebu Alumni Association in partnership with the Cebu Business Club in Marco Polo Hotel Cebu last Friday.
Villegas identified agribusiness as one of the sunshine industries that would help the country sustain its economic growth in the coming years. This industry was also identified by the Joint Foreign Chambers as one of the seven key industries that needed investments and right policies.
“Debating about being rice self-sufficient is more of a political thing. We can’t compete with countries like Vietnam in terms of rice production,” said Villegas.
Cebu economist Perry Fajardo urged Cebuano investors to look at the potential of agribusiness like planting high-value crops as source of growth in the province.
Other identified sunshine industries include mining, triple Ts (transport, telecom and tourism), infrastructure, automobiles, consumer durables, IT-enabled and IT services, logistics and retailing, health care and medical tourism, education, construction and real estate, and four Fs (food, fashion, furniture and fun).
Villegas, who’s been called “prophet of boom” for his often optimistic outlook for the country, predicted that the Philippines will soon be a highly developed economy at par with other successful Asian countries.
He said the Philippines has a large domestic market that will become the source of investments.
Villegas said the present financial system is “oozing with money.”
“Never in the history have we had so much liquidity at the same time (that) prices are low,” he said.
Villegas encouraged Filipinos, specifically Cebuanos, to venture into businesses in the “sunshine industries.”
“Cebu is a place of entrepreneurial people whose ideas for new businesses are needed,” he said.
Villegas said aspiring entrepreneurs should do away with just imitating businesses of their family members.
Fajardo reported that Cebu’s current economic base is anchored on tourism, export manufacturing and business process outsourcing. Majority of Cebu’s employees work in the services sector, at 70 percent.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 08, 2012.