SouthCot luring more agri investors with crop suitability map

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 March) – Agriculture personnel in South Cotabato are hoping to lure more major investments in the province’s agriculture sector in the coming months with the recent completion of the area’s crop suitability map.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said Tuesday they came up with the map to establish a system for the entry of new agribusiness ventures into the province and eventually ensure their viability.

“The map will enable potential investors to immediately identify the areas that are suitable for their crops as well as establish the feasibility of their ventures whether on short or long term basis,” he said.

Legaste said the crop suitability map, which was based on a province-wide study conducted by their office, details various relevant information on available lands in the province’s 10 towns and lone city that may be developed into agribusiness production and expansion areas.

Aside from the suitable crops, he said the map includes information on the amount of rainfall in an area, the land’s elevation and soil fertility.

He said South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. initially signified to reproduce the crop suitability map into pamphlets that may be distributed to visitors coming into the area as well as upcoming investment and business conferences that would be joined by the local government.

“We earlier used the map in identifying potential areas for a proposed agribusiness plantation in T’boli (town) and the investor was very satisfied with the results,” he said.

The use of the map enabled the investor, which is reportedly a major agribusiness company, to save time and resources in determining the possible areas for the project and in coming up with initial strategies for it, he said.

Legaste said representatives of the firm, which he did not identify pending the finalization of the venture, has signified to establish a 3,000-hectare plantation for cassava, rubber and other high-value crops in T’boli town.

“Negotiations are currently ongoing between the investor and some land owners in T’boli for a possible partnership scheme for the project,” he said.

Legaste said the entity is reportedly planning to develop plantations for cassava, rubber, coffee and soybeans.

The investor specifically intends to initially develop 2,000 hectares of rubber plantation, 1,000 hectares of cassava, coffee and soy beans plantations, he said.

But he said it signified to later expand the planned plantations by 3,000 to 5,000 hectares.

Citing results of the initial ocular inspections and aerial surveys conducted by the firm, Legaste said it found Barangay Maan in T’boli town as a viable area for rubber and Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu for cassava, coffee and soybeans.

He said a team of technical experts from the company is scheduled to visit the identified project areas later this month to conduct a verification to speed up its implementation. “They might also put up a processing plant in the area later on depending on the progress of the venture,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)