Regional agri chief eyes expansion of oil palm, rubber farms in ARMM PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 September 2013 11:18

The new agriculture secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is keen on working closely with the Regional Board of Investments in enticing foreign investors to pour in capital inputs for profitable agricultural projects in the ARMM provinces.

Lawyer Makmod Mending, appointed last week by ARMM Gov, Mujiv Hataman as new secretary of the region’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, said one key concern he would focus his attention on is the expansion of African oil palm and rubber tree plantations in farmlands in Maguindanao and other ARMM provinces where both ventures can be viable.

There are hundreds of ethnic Maguindanaon farmers now shifting to oil palm and rubber tree propagation, apparently encouraged by the administration of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose office has distributed for free more than a million seedlings to Moro and Christian farmers in the province since his first term as provincial governor started in 2010.

Mangudadatu’s office has also been supplying with free rubber tree and oil palm seedlings many poor farmers thriving in known enclaves in the province of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to complement the socio-economic component of the on-going government-MILF talks, which aims to improve the lives of the Moro people in Southern Mindanao.

“We ought to thank Gov. Mangudadatu for doing that as a continuing program. We in the ARMM agriculture department, thus, need to provide the farmers with more interventions and capacity-building initiatives towards that goal,” Mending said.

Mending said there are foreign investors willing to put up an oil palm processing plant in the first district of Maguindanao provided local farmers comply first with a starting “cut off” of no less than 5,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the area, as a requisite.

Maguindanao has one processing plant for oil palm in Buluan town in Maguindanao, where there are vast plantations.

Hataman earlier said he appointed Mending for him to manage the ARMM’s agriculture and department to ensure prudent spending of government funds.

Mending assumed office last August 27, after having been appointed last week by Hataman.

Mending replaced Engineer Maritess Maguindra, whom Hataman appointed as ARMM’s regional tourism secretary.

Maguindra was secretary of the ARMM’s trade department while Mending was officer-in-charge of the region’s Department of Interior and Local Government when Hataman was still officer in-charge of the region, from December 22, 2011, until he was elected regional governor in the May polls.

Mending, while ARMM’s DILG chief, implemented various programs to improve and enhance relations between and among the region’s 116 mayors and five provincial governors.

“He is qualified to become agriculture secretary of ARMM,”said Amir Mawalil, ARMM’s ComGroup executive director.

Hataman said he is certain that Mending, as a practicing lawyer, will be able to efficiently manage the expenditures of  ARMM’s agriculture and fisheries department.

The department is one of the three “hugely funded” agencies in the autonomous region, second to the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways, which implements costly multi-million infrastructure projects in the region, and the regional health department.