COTABATO CITY—New investments in BARMM worth Php200,000,000.00 could pave the way for the recovery of Banana industry in some areas in Maguindanao according to Regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments (BBOI) during a business meeting and forum with the local investors conducted at Eka Salam farms in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Sept. 1, 2021.
The regional BBOI facilitated the tie-up of Eka Salam Agri-ventures Corporation with the displaced farmers of Al Sahar in reviving the Banana Plantations in Buldon, Maguindanao, which aims to address the needs of displaced ethnic Iranun banana farmers in the said area.
These Iranun farmers were formerly contract growers who were displaced and lost their jobs after the closure of Al-Sahar Agri-ventures, Inc. in 2019 due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The continuous effort of Regional BBOI to help in the recovery of displaced farmers and invitation of local investors to invest in the region resulted to a newly formed “Business Understanding” between Eka Salam Agriventures Corporation and Iranun Premier Development Corporation—the banana farmers’ newly-organized intermediary corporation.
At least 200 hectares of land in Buldon, Maguindanao are expected to be replanted with Cavendish bananas for export, wherein Eka Salam will act as the Iranun farmers’ marketing arm and will provide technical and farm management expertise.
At a cost of Php1,000,000.00 per hectare, it is estimated to generate a total of Php200 Million worth of investments, and is expected to cater at least 400 workers in every 1.7 hectare area.
Regional BBOI reminded the groups that they could potentially have access to financing from the Landbank of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan program for BARMM and conflict-affected areas—the Harnessing Agribusiness opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) lending facility.
“The Landbank and JICA lending facility under HARVEST is a game changer for BARMM investments, especially in terms of access to finance, because it will bolster the confidence of investors and the market to invest in BARMM,” said lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman of the regional BBOI. (Bangsamoro Information Office)