28/8/2005 KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews) -- A farmers’ group has asked theSangguniang Panlungsod here to pass an ordinance banning oil palmplantations in the area, claiming they pose "risk to food security andself-sufficiency."
"We hope the city council would heed our request to prohibit cultivationof oil palm plantation in the locality considering the impact it willbring to us," said Eliezer Billanes, secretary general of the Associationof Farmers in South Cotabato.
Billanes said they will also ask the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincialboard) to ban oil palm plantations in the ten towns of South Cotabato.
In his letter to Vice Mayor Jose Ledda Jr., Billanes warned of a "massiveland use and crop conversion with the introduction of oil palmplantation."
"Our agricultural lands suitable for staple food production like rice andcorn will be planted with these plantation crops- Please remember that ourpopulation is increasing but the government is continuously decreasing ouragricultural lands. There will be shortage of local food productionthereby giving the national government a justification to import rice andother agricultural crops," he wrote.
Billanes said the farmers’ association also fears the impact of oil palmplantations on the environment and health of the people and animals withthe application of chemicals and pesticides to the farms.
Mayor Fernando Miguel, however, said the oil palm industry would benefitthe area.
He said Malaysia and Indonesia are now enjoying the fruits of aprogressive economy because of the oil palm industry.
Last year, Miguel signed Executive Order 7 on the establishment of an oilpalm industry in the city.
The city government last year also initiated the holding here of an oilpalm industry consultation.
Miguel said they have been closely coordinating with the Department ofTrade and Industry for the development of oil palm in the locality.
The mayor stressed that the local government has spearheaded a campaign toencourage farmers to plant palm oil in the area.
The mayor said the city government is willing to help the farmers grow oilpalm by opening credit windows to them.
He expressed optimism that the initial target of 500 hectares of oil palmplantation in the city would “easily be realized.”
Oil palm farming, he said, is more lucrative than growing palay or corn.
Aside from being an ingredient in making margarine and shortenings, oilpalm is also used in the manufacture of soaps or detergents, among others