Soekarno Mohammad, Sultan Kudarat provincial administrator, said the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) has crafted an oil palm development program to make oil palm number one again.
“Our PPDO has identified some 100,000 hectares across the province to become oil palm plantations in the next several years (to complement existing plantations),” he told reporters.
“Sad to say but we have been overtaken by Bukidnon and Agusan in terms of oil palm production,” Mohammad added.
Based on the province’s briefer, Sultan Kudarat presently has 5,500 hectares of African oil palm plantation concentrated in the capital town of Isulan and Tacurong City. The province has a total land area of at least 513,000 hectares.
Kenram Philipppines, Inc. is the major oil palm producer in the province with 1,600 hectares.
Coffee plantations, on the other hand, stand at over 13,000 hectares in the hinterland towns of Senator Ninoy Aquino, Lebak, and Kalamansig.
Annual coffee production of the province reaches 12,917 metric tons.
Mohammad said oil palm production in the province slumped due to the aging of the plants, with some 70 to 80 hectares oil palm plantation around the newly established provincial cut off.
To reposition oil palm as the province’s major crop, Mohammad said oil palm planting has been started in Columbio town, targeting an initial area of 2,000 hectares.
Oil palm plantation expansion will also benefit the towns of Bagumbayan and Senator Ninoy Aquino, he said.
Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu said they are expecting Malaysian investors to put up an oil palm processing plant once the initial target is achieved.
The plant will be put up by the Agusan Mill Corp. in the boundary of Columbio and Buluan in Maguindanao within a 20-hectare property, he added.
Palm oil is the end product of the processed fruits of the oil palm. It is used as ingredients in making margarine, shortening and soap or detergents, among others.
Business leader Elena U. Haw, president of the Federation of Business Chambers Mindanao Foundation, urged Sultan Kudarat officials not to lose sight on the potentials of the area’s coffee industry.
Sultan Kudarat claims to be the largest producer of coffee in the country.
“Especially for the province’s barako coffee, it has been successfully marketed by the National Coffee Board in the markets of Metro Manila,” said Haw, a native of Tacurong City.
Haw said the provincial government should equally put importance on coffee production as it is doing with oil palm.
Sultan Kudarat’s coffee production is centered in Senator Ninoy Aquino town, the “coffee capital” of the province.