This partnership between the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and the government of Negros Occidental promotes the region's emerging organic industry as it targets the US$57.2B market for organic food and beverages.
"As the Philippines' leading organic agricultural center, the presence of Negros Occidental in IFEX opens great opportunities for our Visayan food suppliers to carve their own niche in the global organic market and contribute to the country’s total food exports," said Rosvi C. Gaetos, Executive Director of CITEM, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
"We are very excited to partner with IFEX for our delicious organic products such as lamb, chicken, seafood, rice, vegetables, rainforest coffee, muscovado sugar, herbal products, and essential oils. IFEX serves as the perfect promotional platform to expose our food enterprises to international benchmarks and gain access to foreign markets," said Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr.
The partnership qualifies up to 15 to 20 of Negros Occidental's small and medium food enterprises (SMEs) for an intensive Export Coaching Program (ECP) designed to increase their competitiveness in the local and global markets. Lasting from 6 to 8 months, the program consists of trainings, seminars, and one-on-one consultations culminating in a promotional activity through a pavilion setting of the region's food products in IFEX 2013.
This, Gaetos said, is a strategic move in accordance with the the Philippine Export Development Plan which identifies agribusiness as a key sector with a total export target of US$4.3M for 2012.
"Negros Occidental's consistent efforts to become Asia's organic food source align with CITEM's own strategies to strengthen the Philippine agribusiness sector. Its food products have a high export potential to capture high-value processes in the global supply chain, while its food SMEs are ready and willing to undergo interventions geared towards organic and natural product certifications,"
Known as the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, Negros Occidental supplies more than half of the country's sugar production. Volatile world sugar prices during the past decade have caused landowners to begin shifting to other high-value crops and alternative industries such as organic farming.
Thus in 2005, the governments of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) aimed at transforming Negros Island into the "Organic Food Bowl of Asia.”
Through the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Development (NISARD) Foundation Inc., the local government advocates organic farming through capability-trainings for farmers and community organizations. It also actively supports policies such as the anti-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) policy for agriculture within Negros; and the establishment of the Negros Island Certification Services (NICERT), the first organic certification body accredited in the country in compliance with the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.
To date, the island produces a number of organic food brands, including the Rainforest Mt. Kanlaon premium Arabica coffee blend, the Rainforest Negrense Robusta coffee blend, the Gourmet Spices and Specialties Light Muscovado, and Fresh Start Organics' white, red, brown, and black rice varieties.
"We believe we are ahead in the whole country in terms of organic farming - we have the land, the farmers, and the capacity to train the farmers and to expand what we have," said Marañon. "We promote organic farming because organic food is healthy, all natural, and without chemicals. Many of our farmers are enthusiastic in producing organic food, especially as it is a vehicle for sustainable rural development and a means of alleviating poverty and increasing food security in the island."
Global market research firm MarketsandMarkets (M&M) claims that the global organic food and beverages sector is expected to grow from US$ 57.2 billion in 2010 to US$ 104.5 billion in 2015 at an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.8 per cent.
The demand is being driven by key factors such as increasing consumers' awareness towards organic benefits, increased organic farming in the world, and the implementation of government regulations for organic products.
Slated at the SMX Convention Center on 16 to 19 May 2013, IFEX Philippines 2013 is co-organized by CITEM with the Department of Agriculture – Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS), which helps the country’s small and medium enterprises find a market for their farm produce and processed products.
More information about the event can be obtained from CITEM (tel. 8312336, 8312201 local 277 c/o Vicky Arellano; email ifexphilippines@