Agro-economic zones eyed in 3 Mindanao regions

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 March) – The government is looking for investors for seven big-ticket agro-economic zones in three regions in Mindanao through a public-private partnership scheme, Joan Barrera, division chief of the Project Development Division of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said.

Speaking during “Wednesdays at Habi at Kape,” Barrera told reporters they have already completed the conceptual framework for the agro-economic zones, which are among the catalytic programs of MinDA.

She said they plan to locate the projects in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro Region; Agusan del Sur in Caraga Region; and Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

She said the agro-economic zone model “adopts an integrated area development approach” in that the manufacturing areas located in the economic zones will be supported by nearby agro trading centers, which will consolidate the products needed for manufacturing.

“It will also be supported by an infrastructure that will connect the production areas, up to the agro-trading centers, up to agro-economic zone, so it’s an integrated area development,” she said.

She said the provinces will decide on the location of the agro-economic zones.

Lamitan City in Basilan has 25 hectares for the agro-economic zone; Picong in Lanao del Sur 25 ha; Buluan in Maguindanao 35 ha; Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur 45 ha; Irasan, Roxas in Zamboanga del Norte 52 ha; Rebocon, Dumanilao in Zamboanga del Sur 40 ha; and Palomoc-Culasian, Titay in Zamboanga Sibugay 409.47 ha.

Barrera said the cumulative indicative cost is P42 billion for the seven agro-economic zones.

Rubber and coconut are the potential crops in Basilan; abaca and coconut in Lanao del Sur; coconut and oil palm in Maguindanao; cacao, rubber and banana in Agusan del Sur; rubber and coconut in Zamboanga del Norte; cassava, coconut and banana in Zamboanga del Sur; and rubber, coconut and seaweed in Zamboanga Sibugay, she said.

MinDA has identified 12 catalytic programs for Mindanao, including the 2,135-km Trans-Mindanao High-Speed Railway System worth P753.5 billion and other infrastructure projects. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)