RDC-12 focuses on agri processing, manufacturing

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 Sept) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 is targeting to draw more investments on agricultural processing and manufacturing as it moves to sustain an 8- to 10-percent economic growth rate for the region in the next three years.

Arturo Valero, acting RDC 12 chairperson, said in a press conference that they consider the processing and manufacturing sectors as among the key drivers in the coming years of the region’s economy, which has remained largely agriculture-based.

Citing the region’s economic performance in the last three years, the official said the industrial sector has posted an increasing growth trend mainly due to the continuing expansions in processing and manufacturing.

Region 12, which is Mindanao’s third biggest economy. posted an overall economic growth of 8.1 percent in 2012.

Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that Region 12’s industry sector achieved a 3-percent growth in 2010 and it vaulted to 10 percent in 2011 and 10.8 percent last year.

The region only targeted growth rates of 5.4 percent and 5.7 percent for the industry sector in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

“This could be attributed to the fact that we are already processing a greater part of our agriculture products,” said Valero, who is also regional chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-12.

Among the region’s top processed products are canned and pouched tuna, canned pineapple, crude palm oil and pouched mackerel.

Tuna, pineapple and crude palm oil are also among the leading export products of the region, which generates around US$400 million annually in export receipts.

The region’s tuna exports mainly come from this city, which hosts six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and several other processing plants.

Pineapple is produced by Dole Philippines, Inc. based in Polomolok, South Cotabato and palm in Sultan Kudarat and parts of North Cotabato.

“We were earlier informed that a new oil palm mill will be put up soon in North Cotabato,” Valero said.

The official said another product that could play a major role in terms of the development of the region’s processing and manufacturing sector is rubber, which is mainly produced in North Cotabato.

“We’re looking at getting investments into rubber processing and one thing that we could develop for the future is the possibility of eventually producing our own tire brand here,” he added.