Tree crops could be bigger business in the Philippines

The expansion of tree crops in Southeast Asia over the past 50 years has benefited not just investors, but also the poor, however the Philippines is lagging behind its neighbours.

An article in Inquirer Business reports on the growth of tree crops such as rubber, oil palm, coconut, coffee and cocoa with impressive figures from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, but not so for the Philippines.

The article attempts to explain why the Philippines is at the lower end of production and exports, and what has aided neighboring countries, namely access to land, access to long-term finance, replanting of trees after their ‘economic’ life, use of quality planting material – especially for coffee agroforestry in Vietnam – and modern plantation management.

The author, Dr Roland T Dy, Executive Director of the Center for Food and Agribusiness of the University of Asia & the Pacific, says what is needed in the Philippines is the “right mix of land access, certified seedlings, well-funded research and development, and modern plantation management”. Without these, the country suffers from poor land utilization, low yields, limited tree crop exports, low farm income and lethargic rural markets. But he is hopeful of a turn-around under the current government.

Read the full story: The business of tree crops