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MPIC to venture into farm infrastructure

Posted on August 24, 2012 07:31:29 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) is reportedly making a foray into farming, with its partner SL Agritech Corp. saying the two plan to jointly establish a 1,000-hectare hybrid rice plantation.

The Pangilinan-led infrastructure conglomerate has expressed in preliminary meetings it could inject an initial $10 million into the partnership to cover irrigation systems, roads, and the cost of land development, SL Agritech President and Chief Executive Henry Lim Bon Liong said in a press briefing on Friday.

SL Agritech, meanwhile, will provide the hybrid rice variety seeds along with technology and technical assistance.

MPIC, which has been so far active in bidding for and running concessionaire contracts for tollways and rail transits, will also have the opportunity to collect irrigation service fees, Mr. Lim said.

“What we want to do is convert idle, unproductive lands into hybrid rice fields,” said Mr. Lim.

Officials of MPIC could not be immediately reached for comment.

Already, representatives of the two companies had met with the Agriculture department’s Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. last Wednesday to seek assistance for identifying potential locations.

According to Mr. Lim, the Agriculture department had provided a list of possible areas, which includes Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga Sibugay, Davao de Sur, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

“We will verify and scout these areas to see where we can develop our tie-up. MPIC has also commissioned a consulting firm, which will do a feasibility study of the project once the area is confirmed,” he said.

“MPIC has also expressed its willingness to replicate the effort in other parts of the country if this initial partnership is successful,” he added.

He however noted that majority of the details of the partnership have yet to be finalized as discussions are still ongoing.

“They want the area finalized first, so we can proceed with the feasibility study,” he said.

“Once we are able to do that, then we could finalize the target production volume, as well as how the profits will be shared,” added Mr. Lim.

MPIC is the local unit of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., which partly owns Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a minority stake in BusinessWorld. -- BFVR       
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