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Ailyn Agonia
INVESTMENT opportunities in the field of agriculture were tackled by officials from the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) during an investment forum held at the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel on Saturday.
The forum attended by members of the Filipino community in the country was organised in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy Doha. It was the last leg of the three-day investment forum in the Middle East initiated by the Executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the promotion of agricultural and fisheries development and growth.
"Our main objective is to encourage Filipinos overseas to become entrepreneurs. We have noticed that while a large number of Filipinos work abroad for several years, many of them return home without a stable source of income and some of them have to go back again to a foreign land to earn a living", Francisco Villano Jr, Chief of Staff of the Undersecretary for Finance at the DA told Qatar Tribune on the sidelines of the event.
Villano Jr added,"What we want is to encourage them to be entrepreneurs and explore investment opportunities in the Philippines specifically in the agricultural sector."
The agency held a similar forum in Bahrain and then in Kuwait. The forum featured discussions on high value crops, coconut industry as well as credit facilities and the role of agricultural attach`.
According to Gil Herico, agricultural attache at the Consulate General of the Philippines in the UAE, they received an overwhelming response to their initiatives both in Bahrain and Kuwait.
"In 2012, we conducted our first agricultural forum in Dubai and then had a follow-up forum after three years. But, we realised that we should not confine ourselves to Dubai alone and decided to move to other countries of the region", Herico said.
"We want to highlight the importance of investment in agriculture for overseas Filipinos because food security is one of the priority areas for the current Philippine government. We look forward to having more Filipino trading partners," the official added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to Qatar HE Wilfredo Santos urged Filipino expats in Doha to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the area of agriculture in the Philippines.
"As an agricultural country, it is but common sense to develop agribusiness investment in the Philippines. However, in 2015, agriculture constituted only 10 percent of our GDP/ economy. To move the economy forward, spurring growth in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors is the key, as these sectors generate the most employment.
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