Header AD

Siena Luchansky: Foreign agri firms prefer Bangsamoro over NPA areas

Se volteo la tortilla

By Manny Piñol

It is a virtual reversal of fortunes or a case of "se volteo la tortilla" as they say it in South America.
Siena Luchansky
Multi-national agricultural corporations involved in the production of tropical fruits for the export market like Cavendish bananas, Pineapple, Papaya and even Hash Avocados now prefer to invest in the Bangsamoro Areas rather than in regions where there is a huge presence of the Communist New People's Army (NPA).

This is a complete turn-around for the Bangsamoro Areas which were shunned by agricultural investors years ago because of the endless fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and even rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

As the peace efforts of the government which are now pursued relentlessly by President Rody Duterte gain ground and the fighting stopped, the former conflict areas of the Bangsamoro are now the prime target of multi-national companies like Del Monte Fresh, Dole Philippines, Uni-Frutti, Sumifru and other smaller firms.

The sudden shift in investors' preference was also prompted by the recent vicious attacks and endless revolutionary tax collections by the New People's Army on foreign companies operating in the Davao Region, Caraga and Northern Mindanao areas.

Last night, in my farm house in Kidapawan City, Del Monte Fresh executives led by Philippines General Manager Danilo Roman, Operations Director David Chincilla, both Nicaraguans, and Landlease Manager Almario G. Dacono, said they will be undertaking more expansions in the MILF areas in Maguindanao and North Cotabato Province, including Sultan Kudarat and Lanao del Sur.

Del Monte Fresh currently has about 3,000 hectares of Cavendish banana farms in the area employing about 6,000 workers, some of them former MILF cadres.

"When we started way back five years ago in Datu Abdula Sangki (DAS municipality), many were skeptical about the success of the project mainly because of the instability of the peace and order situation," said Roman.

Today, almost every multi-national fruit corporation would like to invest in the Bangsamoro Areas, especially now that President Duterte himself has personally handled the dealings with MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim and MNLF leaders Nur Misuari and Muslimen Sema.

Roman said the multi-national corporations feel that their investments are safer in the Bangsamoro Areas now than in regions influenced by the NPAs.

"They (NPAs) have been burning equipment and even vans loaded with fruits. Some company officials were ambushed. But we cannot give in to their demands for revolutionary taxes or else we will be subject to sanctions by the international community," Roman said.

"It is more stable in the Bangsamoro Areas and they are very easy to deal with," Roman said.

During our conversation last night, I relayed to Del Monte Fresh executives the desire of President Duterte to give Bangsamoro stakeholders the opportunity to cash in on the lucrative market for tropical fruits by engaging them in a production-contract scheme.

The usual practice by multi-nationals is to lease the land from the owners for P15,000 per hectare per year which is roughly $300 with the assurance that at least two members of the family of the landowners could farm in the farms.

President Duterte, however, prefers that the Bangsamoro farmers themselves should operate their farms with technical support from the multi-nationals and funding from government banking institutions like Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

This is a concept welcomed by MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim when we met last month in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
The Japanese Government has an available fund of about P6-B under the Harvest Program of Land Bank.

"Let the Bangsamoro People get more benefits from their land by making them the producers and not just lessors," President Duterte instructed me recently.

Del Monte Fresh officials last night welcomed President Duterte's proposal and said they were willing to provide technical and management support and a marketing contract to Bangsamoro farmers who will produce Cavendish bananas and other tropical fruits for the corporation.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!

(First photo shows Del Monte Fresh executives enjoying a simple dinner of lechon Manok Pinoy, Black Chicken soup, mongo and kalabasa and Abuyog Jackfruit in my farmhouse last night with my son, Imman. Other photos of the tropical fruits downloaded from public websites.)

Siena Luchansky: Foreign agri firms prefer Bangsamoro over NPA areas Siena Luchansky: Foreign agri firms prefer Bangsamoro over NPA areas Reviewed by Raelyn Luchansky on 8:27:00 PM Rating: 5

Post AD