A Founder’s Perspective
WILLY U. CO
Twenty-five years ago, there were big issues confronting the Philippine seed industry. The first issue was the ban on seed importation which led to the closure of many seed companies, merchants and traders. The second issue was the challenge to produce locally produced seeds.
That period brought intense debate, and in some instances, animosity among the stakeholders in the industry. Seed companies disagreed with other seed companies and private sectors argued against the government. And some public research institute versus private seed traders and so on.
Allied Botanical Corporation was born during this period. I was the president of the Philippine Seed Industry Association, at that time and I found myself caught in between these issues. We resisted the government policy to ban seed imports because typhoons and other factors erode farmers’ marginal competitiveness against their foreign counterparts. Alone, a single country or a single institute, or any single company cannot match the international effort in plant breeding and research.
I believe our Filipino farmers should have the access to all available seeds and genetic materials, and should benefit from available plant breeding and crop improvement technologies worldwide. We should provide farmers with all the available options on what seed to plant to ensure their competitiveness.
As a company philosophy, we believe in free trade and free enterprise. We believe that the truly viable company with a good business model and competitive products should be able to stand on its own without relying on any subsidies. That was our position then and that remains our position today.
While resisting the seed import ban, we took the challenge of breeding and locally producing seeds. We chose hybrid grain sorghum for start and that was how our research and production based in Pangasinan was born.
What we cannot breed, we distributed. Our first vegetable seed brand was Ferry-Morse, which remained with us to this day. We also developed a strong alliance with Sakata Seed Corporation for both vegetable and flower seeds. For hybrid onion, a very important crop in the Philippines, we carried Rio Colorado, now Nunhems. And, not long ago, we started to carry Rijk Zwaan for greenhouse and high value crop lines.
We’re happy and proud to say that these products have become market leaders in their respective market segments.
In 1996, we opened our Tayug main research station to develop our pinakbet line of tropical oriental vegetable varieties.
Simultaneously, we developed our crop care division with the most professional and world’s chosen line of products.
We partnered with Scotts, now known as Everris, a world-leader in fertilizer technology, and an icon in the lawn and garden industry in the United States through their professional line of Peters, Osmocote, and Agroblen fertilizers.
We’re equally proud that our Nordox line of copper fungicide is now certified by the OMRI, or the Organic Materials Review Institute.
Today, we also carry Klasmann Substrat, one of the world-leaders in peat moss which offers the widest and most high quality range of peat for the professional grower.
All through these years, three guiding principles apply in our company:
Number One is to carry the best range of inputs to make the Filipino farmers globally competitive.
Number Two, to carry only environmentally-friendly products. We will not carry products that will harm the environment and directly cause health hazards. Allied Botanical will never deliberately nor knowingly carry any toxic chemical pesticide nor deal with any substance that is harmful to human health or that will pollute the environment.
We will strive to be the best and do our best to improve our products and our customer service.
We’re still moving forward achieving these goals so that this challenge for the Allied Botanical Team would remain at the forefront of our objective. I’m thankful to the customers who are patient with us, who gave us criticisms, suggestions for improvement-who stayed with us all through these years, although we are sometimes behind in our delivery, those who speak to us even when we run out of stock. We know that when you call to complain, you care for us and you wish us to become better. We’re listening and we treasure your comments. Thank you so much for your concern. We value your guidance. Thank you.
Let me take this opportunity to thank all those who have been part of Allied Botanical group of companies, to its employees both past and present for their hardwork and dedication of bringing the company to where it is right now. And a very special thanks to our customers and business partners. We are here today because of you.
I was once asked this question: Why did I enter the seed industry?
As a business graduate from De La Salle University, we were all trained to make money – lots of money. However, early in my career in the seed industry, a friend once asked me: “Of all the business that you can get into, why did you enter the seed business? It is a small and very specialized industry, how much money can you make out of it?”
I doggedly stopped to think about it, partly because of my love for farming and my dislike for being stuck behind an office desk. My answer, then as it is now, is: “That the reward is not entirely monetary. The reward is the fulfillment of seeing a toiling farmer smiling at you-thanking you for the money he made out of the crop by planting our seed or using the fertilizer or the technology that we introduced to them. ”
I love this job and if I’m asked to choose what to do in my next life, I will probably choose to do this again.o