By Manuel T. Cayon | Mindanao Bureau Chief
DAVAO CITY—The Unifrutti group has established a new banana-plantation project in Maguindanao worth P3.7 billion. Its registration has been approved by the Regional Board of Investments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-ARMM).
The ARMM Bureau of Public Information said the venture was registered as a cavendish banana-plantation project of Al-Sahar Agri Ventures Inc. It covers 2,600 hectares in the municipalities of Talayan, Buldon, Barira and Mangudadatu in Maguindanao.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of RBOI-ARMM, said Al Sahar’s banana plantation “is so far the biggest private investment in the region’s history.”
The new plantation in Maguindanao is expected to create up to 3,900 jobs for local residents, the ARMM information office said.
“Our company is here in the ARMM to help uplift the lives of the people and help propel economic development in the region,” said Ed Bullecer, director of Al-Sahar. The ARMM has been the location for several successful ventures of Unifrutti, such as La Frutera Inc., Wao Development Corp. and Mount Kalatungan Agri Ventures Inc.
“We consider the ARMM as the best agri-related investment destination in the country due to its fertile and vast lands, low cost of doing business and strong support from local leaders despite security issues,” Bullecer said.
Before Al Sahar’s registration, investments in the region have been tracked at P1.8 billion. This year’s investment figure is expected to increase further since more private ventures are in the pipeline, the ARMM said.
Current projects in the ARMM are an oil-palm plantation worth P1.3 billion, a napier grass biomass fuel-production project estimated to cost P400 million, and the modernization and expansion of a cassava-starch factory worth about P200 million.