Governor wants palm oil mill in North Cotabato

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/04 September) – Aside from offering North Cotabato’s vast tracks of land as potential oil palm plantations, Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza is also inviting investors to put up a palm oil processing mill in the province.

But Mendoza said that while she has talked with potential investors, the terms must be ironed out first before entering into any deal to put up the processing mill.

She added that aside from local investors Chinese and Koreans have also expressed interest in the proposal.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have processing mills. So we need it now. Right now, local investors have also expressed their intention along with investors from China and Korea,” Mendoza said in a press briefing at the provincial capitol on Thursday, September 1.

The processing mill may cost up to P500 million, she said, adding that they are also considering smaller mills to accommodate the locally harvested oil palm fruits.

Currently, the province has at least 6,000 hectares of oil palm, half of it already bearing fruits, the governor added.

The provincial government, said Mendoza, is optimistic that the development of the oil palm industry in the province could help address unemployment and increase land productivity.

The municipal government of Carmen will start next year its oil palm seedlings dispersal, she said.

There are two palm oil mills in Mindanao, one in Trento, Agusan del Sur and another one in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. From this city, Trento is six hours by bus while Tacurong is around 60 kilometers or approximately one hour away.

Oil palm fruits must be milled within 24 hours from harvest.

Based on the data posted on the provincial government’s website, the total area for potential oil palm plantations is 58,769 hectares. On top of the list is Carmen with 9,858 hectares followed by Libungan (6,380 hectares) and Makilala (4,956 hectares), which is already known as the rubber capital of the province.

Currently, the town of Tulunan has the biggest oil palm plantation in the province with 1,150 hectares followed by Mlang (988 hectares), Kabacan (455) hectares and Arakan (453 hectares).

Citing a study, the report added that of the total land area of the province of 656,590 hectares, 66% is classified as highly sustainable for palm oil. North Cotabato, which recently hosted the National Oil Palm Congress, has an average yield of 1.6 metric tons per hectare per month. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)