MATANOG, Maguindanao (MindaNews/25 August) — Foreign investors from South America, the Middle East and other parts of Asia have shown interest to engage in high value crop production in this town due to its “langkong” or fertile soil, an official said over the weekend.
Matanog Mayor Mohammad “Kits” Guro said nutrients found in langkong (an Iranun term) are of high quality, and the people were excited for the investments to come in.
Guro said the investors wanted to go into coconut, banana, pineapple and coffee production.
“I met several players now who signified interest to invest in our town, and we are catching up with the requirements to proceed within this year,” he said.
The mayor said it all started during his last pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia last month where he met several businessmen who were willing to invest in Mindanao.
He said a Malaysian investor wanted tons of whole coconuts in one huge shipment and all he needed to do was coordinate with maritime officials at Polloc port.
Matanog has a land area of 19,000 hectares with 80 percent planted to coconuts.
“We feel our supply is not enough so we have to tap the nearby Iranun towns and Lanao del Sur,” Guro said.
A Saudi-based investor asked him to regularly supply bananas, which are in demand in the Middle East.
“He challenged me if we can handle providing them with one fleet of bananas regularly, though I said we’re not yet ready on that. I have to work it out with my constituents to plant Cavendish bananas,” Guro said.
Matanog and La Frutera Corporation, a banana plantation in the region, are now exploring the possibility of allotting at least 1,000 hectares for this venture.
Fruit producer Dole Philippines has also proposed setting up a 5,000-ha pineapple plantation while a Guatemala-based investor is eyeing coffee plantations.
Guro said the investors pledged to take care of the technical requirements and capital as long as the town can assure peace and order as well as people’s cooperation.
The mayor attributed the relative peace in the town to the efforts of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, in particular the settling of rido (clan conflicts) and the battle against criminals.
The local government and the Army brigade assured cargo truckers and commuters they can pass unharmed along the Narciso Ramos Highway in this town even at night.
“I told potential investors, come and invest here. If it happens the business fails because of extortion or atrocities we will give back your capital investments,” Guro said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)