COTABATO CITY – Model banana farms are soon to sprout in about 5,000 hectares in a special geographic area (SGA) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in North Cotabato province.
Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) – BARMM Member of Parliament Suharto Ambolodto said Tuesday the project aimed to alleviate the lives of farmers and to encourage more local businessmen to pour in capital.
“This activity is mainly to look upon the opportunities of local entrepreneurs to invest here since they would be investing for the future of our Bangsamoro people,” he said.
The SGA comprises the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato that opted to join the BARMM during the two-part plebiscite held in January and February 2019.
Ambolodto said the signing of a memorandum of agreement with local investors further bolstered the endeavor with the initial set up of a banana plantation in a combined 5,000 hectares of farmlands in villages under the SGA in Kabacan.
Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) – BARMM Chairman Ishak Mastura said his office would facilitate the farmers’ link to the investors in terms of profit sharing and other concerns.
“We also need to link the farmers to local investors, not only in the government programs or services but also to private sectors that would give them direct assistance to start-up investments immediately in our region,” he said.
In a separate statement, RBOI Board of Governor Mohammad Pasigan said their office has been reaching out to farmers and local investors to expose them to investment opportunities in the region.
“The RBOI has even helped them connect to the tie-up ‘Harvest Program’ of Japan International Cooperation Agency and Land Bank of the Philippines that could fund both farmers and local investors on livelihood assistance through very reasonable forms of loan,” he said.
Local investors who signed the MOA were Engr. Kaiser Usman of Usman Banana Plantation in Matanog, Maguindanao and Datu Jabib Guiabar of Kabacan.
To drumbeat the initiative, both businessmen encouraged other local investors to do business in the region and help uplift BARMM’s economy.
“We are expecting to plant Cardava banana in the SGA to a farmland area of some 5,000 hectares,” Guiabar said. (PNA)