Firm eyes 45,000-hectare oil palm expansion in NorMin

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 November)–A Mindanao-based company engaged in oil palm growing is targeting to develop at least 45,000 hectares of land in two provinces in the island within the next five years.

Manuel Boniao, chairman of Bali Oil Palm Produce Corp., said they are aiming to develop 15,000 hectares in Bukidnon and 30,000 hectares in Misamis Oriental, both in Northern Mindanao region, through contract growing scheme.

“To uplift the lives of poor farmers, we believe that we should have a holistic and integrated approach where all stakeholders participate in the program that promotes inclusive growth for farmers,” he said in a report from the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Bali Oil is among the companies that adopted the Inclusive Business in Mindanao (IBIM), a partnership between the PBSP and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

PBSP and MinDA recently launched here the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, a component of IBIM, which seeks agri-based investments that will allow low-income groups to participate in the production and supply chain, enabling them to benefit from long-term employment and sustained socio-economic development.

Bali Oil currently operates a 200-hectare oil palm plantation in Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental.

As part of the company’s expansion in Bukidnon province, it has signed a partnership agreement with the Kalilangan Oil Palm Growers Association, which is based in the town of Kalilangan.

Association members can source a loan facility from the Development Bank of the Philippines. Bali Oil will buy the harvests of the members.

Bali Oil utilizes Malaysian technology in its oil palm production.

The company encourages the intercropping of corn with oil palm in the first four years of gestation of the latter.

Based on its study, Bali Oil said that Mindanao is suited for oil palm production due to its favorable agro-climatic conditions as well as the availability of suitable lands.

It also cited the BIMP EAGA initiative or the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area.

Global production of palm oil, the liquid extract of the oil palm tree that can be used for food and non-food products, is dominated by Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 2011, Indonesia produced 24 million metric tons (MT) while Malaysia contributed 18 million MT, or 48 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, of the total global production of 49 million MT, data from Bali Oil showed.

The company said there are 975,300 hectares of land in Mindanao and Palawan, the two focus areas of the Philippines in the BIMP-EAGA, that are suitable for oil palm cultivation.

There are almost 57,000 hectares planted with oil palm in the Philippines as of 2012, majority of them in Mindanao.