Agro-industrialization in the Philippines is not a New Thinking

Agro-industrialization is not new thinking. Certainly, it has been in the Philippines  since the Spanish period. The elementary pupils of our generation were obliged to memorize the various industry capitals of the country, for instance, our province Nueva Ecija as the rice granary, and my father’s province of Masbate as the cattle capital of the country. Even our generation though just memorized these industry capitals without understanding the importance of geography in national development thinking.

The rice milling district model is also not new. The Cojuangco’s established one in Talavera, Nueva Ecija with an irrigation system and rice mill and warehouse near the train station in Munoz. All these were early agro-industrialization models.

The reason why we have the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Bureau of Animal Industry is because of agro-industrialization model. There were already zoning because of the crop or livestock industry model. In today’s function of the two vital bureaus under the Department of Agriculture, they consider themselves purely as technical support services, eventually setting aside the industry dimension of their respective names. Agricultural zoning was natural. There were no laws that support agricultural zoning. Zoning was a function of different factors primarily crop adaptability and market and processing infrastructure. support research and development and extension delivery. However, when Executive Order 116 was approved to reorganize the Department of Agriculture, the attachment to industry development of these agencies under the DA faded totally. EO 116 was supposed to be about the integration of functions of agencies on the regional and provincial levels and regional operations must be shaped based on the industry being developed. However, EO 116 was standardized, it was interpreted as the integration of people. The old school dedicated researchers in these agencies were all gone and replaced by new ones who do not understand the history of agricultural development in our country.

Even the farm schools established by the Americans were designed for agro-industrialization. While the UP College of Agriculture was established immediately as part of the University of the Philippines with no clear industry base, but what is now Central Luzon State University and Central Mindanao University were in support of the rice industry and the pineapple industry, respectively. While the UP-Cornell Project, which was intended for the rehabilitation of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture after the war was successful in strengthening the capability of UPLB, particularly the establishment of the central experiment station model, it did not expand for wider national agro-industrialization geographical foundation. However, it was able to contribute to the development of the “buko pie industry” in Los Banos. Nonetheless, it contributed to the development of the state university system. In case the university collaboration model will be revived, there must be a focus on agro-industrialization.

Our idea of the warehouse store already started by the old FACOMA and NAMARCO but it was short-lived. However, with modern technologies using the apps and even drones, it is even easier for an integrated warehouse store and farm machinery pool.

What we do not have actually is the inclusive agro-industrial thinking.

While I have the experience in integrated agricultural development planning, it was my visit to the Epcot Center in Disneyland in Orlando, Florida in May 2001 when I saw written on one of the buildings at the center that imagination is more important than knowledge. This visit to the center inspired me to complete this work, Model Agro-Industrial Infrastructure Systems. It was completed in 2003.

I am sharing this work that I wrote 16 years ago. Considering the time that has elapsed, I believe it requires updating. However, some of the updates are already included as part of my new book “Business Models for Collective Governance.”

In addition, I am sharing three other related articles that I wrote, which are my national policy agenda experience in Fiji,  my insight on the old agro-industrial research inside the Central Luzon State University, and the Carabao Agro-Industrialization Model that is another option as we are so much bothered by the elusive rice self-sufficiency agenda


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