Malaysian business tycoon and philanthropist Robert Kuok has joined forces with the San Miguel Corporation to help the Philippines boost food production and curb the country’s growing food crisis.
The family-owned Kuok Group, which runs the Shangri-La Hotel chain, and SMC will invest injecting $1 billion to develop at least one million hectares of agricultural lands to boost production of rice, corn, sugar and other crops in the Philippines. The Southeast Asian country is the world’s largest importer of rice and has been hit hard by the growing global food crisis.
“There are many factors that have led to the present crisis," said Kuok. "Urbanisation, changing diets in emerging economies, the use of crops to produce alternative fuels, the global rise in population, and climate change, have all put tremendous pressure on farm lands and are changing the face of farming.”
The two companies and the national government are hoping to cushion the impact of the food crisis and establish long-term, sustainable food supply for a greater number of Filipinos.
“The skyrocketing prices of fossil fuels, which affects not only farming but also the transportation of goods, as well as the rise in prices of fertilizers, have also had a major impact on food supply and food prices,” he said.
Under the agreement, the national government will identify, evaluate and review government land suitable for food production and the Kuok Group and SMC will provide financial and technical expertise for the development and cultivation of government land. The land will continue to be owned by the government.