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Van der Knaap Group of Companies, a Netherlands-based firm specializing in rooting growing media for horticulture, will invest an initial $ 1.5 million (P61.5 million) to set up a coco peat processing business in the Philippines.
Dinesh Fernando, managing director of Euro Substrates (Pvt) Ltd. Sri Lanka, said the company will establish operations in Mati, Davao in Mindanao. Euro Substrates is a subsidiary of Van der Knaap.
“We see the market growing,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the recent National Coco Coir Summit in Lucena City. Fernando said they can develop the husks of coconuts, where the raw material coco peat is made, into a high-value horticultural substrates export material.
This, as the raw coco peat currently is sold in the local market only as soil conditioner. It is not processed into coco peat products used for horticultural and agricultural applications.
With this, Philippines only exports an average of 1,123 metric tons (MT) or a mere 0.5 percent of the 350,000 MT world’s total demand. In 2012, the major export markets for coco peat were China, United States, Singapore, Korea and Japan, according to Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) data.
Optimistic on growth, Fernando said the company will also explore business opportunities in Laguna and Quezon for expansion. Fernandez said he is arranging the next visit in the country of chief executive officer Ron van der Knaap to further scout for opportunities available in these areas. Van der Knaap Group sells high quality, organic solutions for rooting and growth of plants in over 50 countries.