A Treasure Trove of Agribusiness Information
Dr. Rolando T. Dy’s jewel of a book intelligently connects the dots and explains how the food that lands in our dining tables is intricately linked to countless farms all over the world.
Dr. Rolando T. Dy has spent more than 30 years of his life writing papers and giving lectures on agribusiness development in different parts of the world. As a consultant for various international and local organizations, he has keenly observed how agribusiness has evolved and affected the lives of peoples in the planet. Just when one thinks that with all his achievements, there is probably nothing else that he has done to further enhance his scholarly pursuits, the agribusiness expert, who humbly describes himself as the barrio boy from Davao, has surprised his followers by writing his first book.
Launched last December 8, 2009 at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) where he is concurrently the Executive Director of the Center for Food and Agribusiness, Dr. Dy presented to the members of the academic and business communities his latest achievement: a new book entitled “Food for Thought/ How Agribusiness is Feeding the World (With Special Focus on the ASEAN).” Published by UA&P in cooperation with the Comprehensive Initiative for the Trans-forma-tion of Organizations (CITO) Foundation, the book, all of 258 pages, has been described as “first of its kind that takes a broad look at agribusiness and reveals the extent of the sector’s global reach and significance.”
“I have been tracking agribusiness since 1983 and giving lectures on strategic economic programs for executives,” Dr. Dy tells us when we visited him at his office at UA&P. “I also had an engagement in 2008 in Lima, Peru through the cooperation of the APEC where I also talked about Asian agribusiness. I had lectures on BIMP-EAGA. I talked about my experiences in Malaysia and in Thailand when I was still with the World Bank and I also had lectures in SEARCA. So I thought that as part of my legacy, I want to put everything in a book. Looking back, I have not seen a book covering the topics on global agribusiness. Who are the key players in the supply chain? Input supply, seeds, production, processing, packaging, commodities. I have not seen a book highlighting the ASEAN as a food basket. These are bits and pieces but, there’s no book that explains and explores the ASEAN agribusiness
It took 15 months for Dr. Dy to put everything together—from conceptualizing to researching to writing every chapter of his book. “I’ve surfed virtually every conceivable website on agribusiness, read blogs on the topics, analyzed tons of data,” he recalls. “Even the title of the book took me a long time to finalize. I had about 25 titles in mind and through the help of friends, I was able to come up with one.”
Indeed, the it chapters of Dr. Dy’s latest opus is a gold mine of agribusiness information that takes its readers all over the world—from Cargill in the US (the world’s largest supplier of food, agri products and agri services) to AB-In Bev in Belgium (the world’s largest brewer) to Wilmar International Ltd in Singapore and the Del Monte Pacific Farms in Mindanao—he expounds why not one country can be totally sufficient in food. The author intelligently connects the dots and explains how the food that lands in our dining tables is intricately linked to countless farms all over the world. But more than taking the simplistic view of the fork-to-farm chain, Dr. Dy uses hard facts and comprehensive statistics to hammer important points on how government policies, infrastructure, misuse of public funds, etc. contribute to the general development and underdevelopment of nations.
Zeroing in on the ASEAN, Dr. Dy reveals why and how the region is considered as a global food basket and why the inter-regional trade will further grow under the AFTA starting this year.
The Philippine chapter, on the other hand, veers from the usual pedagogical narrative as Dr. Dy opted to face the issues squarely and answers ten tough questions related to our dismal and chronic poverty situation, underperformance in agriculture and our misguided focus on becoming self-sufficient in rice. Similarly, the epilogue, a very timely “Memo to the Next President” (now that we’re at the height of election fever) lists ten suggestions to consider in crafting the vision for a better Philippines as to whoever will seat in Malacanang in the next few months.
Former Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo, Jr., Chair of the CITO Foundation, who wrote the glowing foreword, said Dr. Dy’s book is not a textbook. “It is a compendium of well-researched chapters that can be read on a stand-alone basis. It is meant for a wide range of readers: from analysts to students, from business executives to political leaders, and from professors to practitioners.”
By Ronald G. Mangubat