Close to 1M has in Mindanao eyed for oil palm

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 March) –The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) identified 959,000 hectares of lands as potential areas for oil palm investments.

In the recent presentation made by Romeo M. Montenegro, MinDA director for investment promotion and public affairs, majority is in Caraga Region at 384,000 hectares followed by Northern Mindanao with 154,000 hectares and Region XII with 112,000 hectares.

“Caraga has potential for production expansion of oil palm, nursery and manufacturing from oil to intermediate or final goods,” Montenegro said during the Davao City Oil Palm Investment Forum last week at Park Inn Hotel.

He said that throughout the island about 60,000 hectares have been utilized for oil palm plantations. These plantations are operated by Agumil, Kenram, Filipinas Palm Oil, Carmen Univanich, Aberdi, Zanorte and Bali Palm Oil.

He said they are presently overcoming the challenges like addressing the “connectivity and accessibility difficulties, infrastructure development challenges, security and safety issues, accessing land resources and consolidation.”

The World Wildlife Fund said in its website that monoculture like oil palm plantations can pose a “number of environmental impacts” including large-scale forest conversion and loss of critical habitats for endangered species.

But Dr. Pablito P. Pamplona, board of director and secretary of Philippine Palm Oil Development Council, said in his presentation that the crop can be “a tool to help overcome soil erosion and poverty among upland dwellers.”

“The truth is oil palm is more water efficient than most crops. It also creates higher rainfall to supply water for rice production and the domestic needs of the lowland dwellers,” Pamplona said. (MindaNews)