A memorandum has been signed by Horacio Morales Jr, Secretary of the Philippine Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), representatives of Sutech Engineering Co. Ltd, and the Thai government. The agreement represents the first step in a joint sugar production venture.The proposed venture will be based in reform communities in the Southern Philippines, and is aimed at enhancing sugar production and increasing the income and machine technology available to sugar farmers. In the meantime, however, the DAR has undertaken to identify the project site, survey the land, and coordinate agrarian reform with beneficiaries and investors.This feasibility study estimated a total cost US$170m. Sutech has pledged to provide financial and technical backing, and additional financial aid will come from institutions such as Eximbank of Thailand, and the Japan Bank of International Cooperation.The governments are anxious to turn around the trend in sugar production over the last twenty years. During the 1970s, the Philippines was the world's largest exporter, commanding 10% of the world's sugar market. Now, however, the country imports sugar.