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Vitarich CEO Rocco Sarmiento shares wishlist for Marcos admin: Make agri sector more competitive

Vitarich Corp. president and CEO Rocco Sarmiento hopes the government will build a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector to help drive a stronger Philippine economy.

Speaking at the BusinessWorld economic forum, Sarmiento said there is a lot of work to be done on productivity, education, alignment of policies, as well as disparity of tariffs.

He said there is also potential in public-private partnership, wherein resources of the private sector can be unlocked.

Among his recommendations to the government is to come out with appropriate policies to address the rising costs of fertilizer and all other inputs that support the agriculture industry.

“Inputs have dramatically risen since the second half of last year. If those costs are controlled, that would have an impact across the board,” he said.

Sarmiento is also calling for alignment of policies.

“I believe we have some disparity on our tariffs—importing corn is 35 percent to 50 percent but if you import the end product, the rate is well below 35 percent,” he said.

“What does it say? It encourages import dependence. If we can fix that properly, that’s already a big leap—we would be able to manage imports and flourish even more,” Sarmiento added.

Sarmiento is likewise pushing for the passage of the Land Use Act, noting that having a zoning policy could really help the industry.

“Finally, since the president is the secretary of the department, I would like to see him champion a roadmap together with the private sector and all the stakeholders, so we know what to do, where we want to go most importantly, and how to get there,” Sarmiento said.

“A clear goal will unite the industry and stakeholders and keep everybody in sync,” he added.

Sarmiento emphasized on the potential of agriculture in reducing poverty, saying that the development of the sector will speed up progress of the countryside, which will then create wealth and livelihood, and lessen poverty.

“There is a sense of optimism in our sector because the administration is giving it importance, which I’ve never seen before. It makes us all excited. But there’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.

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