Sarangani, Israel traders forge ties

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 Sept) – Sarangani businessmen have forged a sisterhood pact with their Israeli counterparts on Friday in a bid to boost agriculture using the latter’s advanced technology.

The sisterhood pact was signed by the Sarangani Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SarCham) and the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP), the provincial information office reported.

It stipulated that Israel would be “the economic partner for the southern part of the Philippines in realizing a harmonious domestic and international trade and industry, specifically on agri- and aquamarine culture.”

Ferdinand Sarfati, ICCP executive director, said Israel has “one of the best technologies in the world specifically on agritech, the foremost among those they could offer aside from tourism.”

Israel is just the size of Palawan with 65 percent desert, he said, yet his country was still able to “export fruits, vegetables, and other things” to Europe and North America “by just actually utilizing 35 percent of (our) land area.” This, he explained, was what advancement in technologies could do.

ICCP president Josef Gueta said the bilateral relations with Sarangani could have potentials “for developing agriculture and tourism” in the area.

Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez noted the success of Israel in many fields of industries, which resulted in breakthroughs in technology, is an advantage not only for Sarangani but for the entire Region 12.

“The biggest challenge of Philippine agriculture today lies primarily on the ability to adapt to major trends especially in the use of technology, therefore, Sarangani would make the most out of the agreement with ICCP to “shift to cultural practice to adapting new technologies,” Dominguez said.

With effective partnerships and system technology transfer, he expressed hopes that Sarangani would soon be the “front door” for the rest of Mindanao.

SarCham president Cherrylin Marie Espinosa expressed optimism that partnering with ICCP would facilitate trade, industrial cooperation, and joint ventures in the future.

Nenita Barroso, Department of Trade and Industry director for Sarangani, said the sisterhood pact would also “increase foreign tourist arrivals and tourism investments in Region 12, generate livelihood projects and result to higher market share of Sarangani products.”

According to the sisterhood pact, core programs like symposia, seminars, workshops, and business conferences on agri and water technology would be initiated to commence first quarter next year.

These activities shall encourage participation from top agricultural players in SOCCSKSARGEN area, exporters, small and medium enterprise, and entrepreneurs.

SOCCSKSARGEN or Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos City, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)