East-West Seeds plans Thailand hub

Corporate May 15, 2013 00:00

By Yuphin Hongthong
The Nation

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Kingdom to be Asian production base in time for AEC


East-West Seed views Thailand as its production base for Asian markets and its Asean hub, and targets export value for 2015 at more than Bt80 billion. Says B8 billion below.  
Sawitr Sangchan, general manager of East-West Seed Co, the distributor of Sorn Daeng seeds, said Thailand had strong potential to produce seeds, as evidenced by exports of 25,000 tonnes worth Bt4 billion in 2011.
The government has set an export target for 2015 at Bt8 billion and is ready to help Thailand become the production base and export hub for seeds under the Asean Economic Community 2015. With 30 years of extensive experience in the seeds business, the company is ready to tap new business opportunities under the AEC. 
The parent company, East-West Seed Co, sees Thailand as the seed production and research base for the Asian region, supported by its subsidiaries in Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, India and Myanmar.
“In 2011, Thailand exported 25,000 tonnes  of seeds worth Bt4 billion. In the future, Thailand aims to export Bt8 billion worth of seeds by 2015,” Sawitr said. “The 30th anniversary of East-West Seed is a great opportunity to support the agricultural sector consistently and continuously improve farmers’ standard of living as well as to set directions to work along the government’s policy as Thailand strives to become the seed hub of the AEC.” 
Last year, the volume sold by East-West Seed exceeded 1,800 tonnes. Of this, 46 per cent was sold domestically and 54 per cent exported. Its top products include seeds for the “Superhot” hybrid pepper. Every 1,000 kilograms of Superhot seeds can produce up to 60 million kilograms of fresh hot pepper and generate around Bt3 billion in income for farmers. Another top product is the hybrid glutinous corn that sold more than 300 tonnes, producing 360,000 tonnes of fresh corn and generating more than Bt2.5 billion for farmers.
The challenges facing farmers are diseases and pests, climate change, the reduction of agricultural land, and lack of know-how. Therefore, East-West Seed says it is ready to aid farmers by providing seeds that are disease-tolerant and pest-resistant, easy to plant, early-harvesting and high-yielding. It also provides training to farmers on modern techniques. 
East-West Seed is equipped with advanced research centres and has the first private seed-testing lab in Thailand certified by the International Seed Testing Association. 
“Our seed production takes place all over the country with 1,700 affiliated contract farmers. Without a doubt, Thailand can definitely be a seed hub of the AEC,” Sawitr said. 
Thailand should benefit from Asean’s 600-million population under the economic integration, representing 4.3 per cent of global gross domestic product. The agricultural sector is the main economic driver of Southeast Asia as 60-70 per cent of the population works in it. 
Joost Pekelharing, president of East-West Seed Group, said: “Southeast Asia has very large opportunities in the vegetable sector. Although the consumption trend is increasing because people are becoming more health-conscious, FAO [Food and Agriculture Organisation] statistics indicate that people in Southeast Asia consume only 50-60 kilograms of vegetables per person per year, while people in Europe, North America and Japan consume 100-200kg per person per year. There is a lot of room to grow in vegetable consumption in the AEC including Thailand. In the same vein, there are also great opportunities in the seed industry.” 
The Thai Commerce Ministry’s International Trade Promotion Department ranks the Kingdom as the 15th-largest food exporter in the world, bringing in US$20 billion (Bt590 billion) per year. In 2013, processed-food export will likely exceed $1.56 billion, which is an increase of 10 per cent over last year. The main markets are mainland China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and the United States.
East-West seeds are planted in the fields of more than 30 million farmers worldwide. The company is based in Asia with more than 3,000 employees and 12 R&D stations in seven countries. 

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