For Hsing Ho the best business approach is to think globally and act locally – an approach the recently opened DuPont operation in Myanmar plans on taking seriously as it turns its eye and expertise toward the fragile food chain in the long isolated nation.
“We believe that as a global company there is a lot to be learned at each locality. The local characteristics are unique for example in the farming community, uniqueness around the weather, the soil, the conditions and so on and so forth that is very locally based,” Mr Ho said at the launch of DuPont in Myanmar.
As DuPont ASEAN managing director, Mr Ho has seen a natural marriage between the US-born science company’s new focus on agriculture and the food chain and the needs of predominantly agriculture economies in the region.
“Myanmar today and in the past has been an agriculture economy and the kinds of agriculture development that would be relevant and important for Myanmar is first and foremost rice,” Mr Ho said of the primary food chain needs in the country.
“As you may know, rice was the number one export commodity for Myanmar for many years, several decades ago,” he said on a recent trip to Myanmar to launch the DuPont operation here.
“Myanmar wants to drive in that direction and regain that position as a major rice producer. So rice is important to the country and also to us because in Du Pont we have a significant initiative in our research and development effort focusing on rice so we believe that we can support the country’s direction in developing higher yield and higher productivity.”
Higher productivity is especially critical for accelerating the process of urbanisation, a characteristic linked to growth of GDP, Mr Ho said.
“For a country to grow in a sustainable manner at a high rate, it needs to continue to urbanise,” he said.
Improving agricultural yields and productivity freed up an element of the rural workforce that would turn toward urbanisation and provide human capital for modern industry and manufacturing, Mr Ho explained.
As the GDP grows and the country looks to modernise, reliance on rice will be supplemented with an increased demand for meat, Mr Ho said, adding that DuPont was also working on corn technology projects in this respect.
“As you know, corn is the major feed stock for poultry and other livestock,” Mr Ho said.
“As the country of 60 million people begin to develop, as the people begin to get better income, they will want to eat probably more meat and more nutrition and more protein ,and as the demand of that goes up, the demand for corn and the feed for livestock will go up significantly. That’s our experience in Thailand where the consumption of feed is quite high. We believe that Myanmar is going to move in that direction for increasing the demand for corn as well.”