Foreigners expected to come to Maguindanao for agri projects PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 August 2014 13:16

Local entrepreneurs expect more foreigners to put up more “organic” plantations in Maguindanao following Wednesday’s launching of Asia’s first ever environment-friendly 1,500-hectare banana farm in Ampatuan town.

Bai Sandra Siang, chair of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kutawato, said the new “all organic” Cavendish banana farm near the site of the infamous November 23, 2009 “Maguindanao Massacre” sounded interesting to their contacts abroad, who learned about it via social media.

Siang said what is also fascinating about the banana venture is the involvement in its establishment of clerics belonging to its main operating entity, the Al-Mujahidun Agro Resources and Development, Inc. (AMARDI).

AMARDI officials told reporters, during the launching of the banana farm Wednesday morning, that they will also put up an Islamic school, a hospital, and a “halal” food processing plant in the area to help address poverty and underdevelopment in Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan town.

The term halal is an Arabic description for food that Muslims can eat, free from anything “haram” (forbidden) such as pork, alcohol and toxic ingredients.

“We in the local business community shall support this capital intensive project. This will benefit the Moro communities in the municipality of Ampatuan,” Siang said.

Businessman Pete Marquez, a senior official of various business clubs in Central Mindanao, said the introduction of large-scale organic banana farming in the province by the AMARDI and its two multinational benefactors, the Univex and the Delinanas of the Del Monte fruit firm, is one big stride for the environment-protection thrusts of local groups and the national government.

“Add to that the initial employment by that plantation of 2,000 Moro workers. That is good for the normalization and peace restoration efforts of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Marquez pointed out.

Marquez said it is apparently for the fragile peace now in Maguindanao that Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu succeeded in convincing the capitalists of the 1,500-hectare banana plantation to invest in Ampatuan, tarnished by the politically-motivated Maguindanao Massacre that left 58 people dead.

Mangudadatu had told reporters that it was for the curiosity of foreign traders on how they can help change the image of Ampatuan town that ushered them into the municipality.

Also present in last Wednesday’s on-field launching rite was Costa Rican entrepreneur-technocrat, Gonzalo Ordeñana, who is helping put up the banana farm, and his counterparts in the AMARDI, cleric Abdulwahid Sumauang, and Akmad Bullecer.

Siang, Marquez, and officials of the Regional Business Council of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said they are delighted with how the provincial government, the AMARDI, and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are cooperating in securing the surroundings of the banana plantation.

Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, who was one of the special guests to Wednesday’s event at the project site, said the joint security efforts of Mangudadatu, the 6th ID and AMARDI will be coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the MILF.

Pangilinan said the 6th ID is obliged to help secure the project since most of the lands rented by AMARDI for banana growing are owned by either members, or supporters of the MILF.

“This is an opportunity for the military to show that it wants the cordiality between the government and the MILF nurtured and sustained, in support of the Mindanao peace process,” Pangilinan said.