Foreign investors to plant bananas around Maguindanao massacre site PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 13:05

Foreign investors will start propagating Cavendish bananas in January next year in arable lands surrounding the site of the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre in Ampatuan municipality in the second district of the province.

Makmod Mending, Jr., secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they will support the venture, which is a joint initiative of the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, the municipal government of Ampatuan, and a Malaysian-Costa Rican fruit firm Univex.

The Univex, along with its local partner, the Al-Mujahidon, will start putting up the banana plantation in January 2014, according to Costa Rican merchant Gonzalo Hernandez, who was in Maguindanao last weekend.

The Al-Mujahidon is represented by Ed Bullicer and a Muslim cleric, Imam Abdulwahid Sumaoang.

Mending said a fascinated ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman already ordered line agencies of the autonomous region to readily extend necessary assistance in the putting up of the banana farms in Ampatuan town.

“We ought to appreciate and thank the provincial leadership in Maguindanao for doing its best to lure foreign investors into the province. These are the efforts that we shall support to the best we can,” Mending said.

Mending said the readiness of the Univex to engage in banana farming in Maguindanao implies that the firm has confidence in the investment climate in the province.

Bullicer and Hernandez had both said they believe in the dedication of the provincial government and the local officials in Ampatuan town to re-invent the image of the municipality from being the scene of the country’ worst-election related violence, that left 58 people dead, into Maguindanao’s agricultural hub.

“With the support of the Mangudadatu administration, the local sectors and line agencies of the government, what else can we ask for? There is so much optimism and zeal on our part to purse this project,” Bullicer said.

The Cavendish banana ventures in the province started more than a decade ago at the border of Maguindanao’s adjoining Buluan and Datu Paglas towns, pioneered by Arab, Italian and Israeli capitalists and local incorporators, among them the Paglas family in the province.

A Costa Rican business group and the multinational fruit firm Del Monte followed suit and established almost two years ago a plantation in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in the second district of the province.

The plantation, which now employs more than 700 ethnic Maguindanaon workers, just held a multi-sectoral “harvest festival” to highlight its productivity now and the socio-economic developments it has brought into the supposedly hostile municipality.

Hernandez, Sumaoang, and Bullicer, who attended Saturday’s commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the infamous Maguindanao Massacre at Sitio Salman in Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan town, are all certain the employment their project can generate will improve the security situation in the municipality.