2 November 2004 KORONADAL CITY - Palm oil production will earn biggerprofits for farmers in South Cotabato since the crop is suited to allareas in the province with the exception of Lake Sebu town owing to itshigh elevation, Rey Legasti, provincial agriculture officer, said.
Expansion projects are being undertaken in several towns in the provincefor the planting of palm oil by Kenram Philippines, the same company thatoperates at least 5,000 hectares of palm oil (Elaeis guineensis)plantations in Sultan Kudarat province.
“We have monitored that the company has been enticing farmers to cultivatepalm oil. We see no problems with it so long as the endeavor would notpose risk to the environment, Legasti said.
Legasti noted, however, that Lake Sebu, the undisputed summer capital ofSouth Cotabato, is not conducive to the cultivation of palm oil becausethe plant is ideal only for areas under 700 meters above sea level.
Danilo Buenbrazo, Department of Trade and Industry-12 senior industryspecialist, agreed with Legasti's claim that farmers will earn more ifthey engage in palm oil production. He said an hectare of palm oil couldgive farmers an income of at least P45,000 on the first harvest.
Some landowners in Tantangan town confirmed that they are offering theirfarms for possible palm oil development by Kenram.
I’m willing to have 5-hectares of our land planted with palm oil, alandowner named Harold Suan said, adding that the marketing aspect of suchendeavor would not be a problem since the company would take care of it.
He said he and other farmers in Tantangan attended last month a meeting inTacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, where Kenram is based, to discuss theproposal.
There has been optimism on palm oil after the industry players announcedthey are eyeing the development of another 4,000 hectares of land inCentral Mindanao within the next 12 months for the crop.
Ponciano Narciso, president of the Philippine Palmoil Development Council,Inc. (PPDCI), said that industry players have agreed to put up palm oilnurseries in North Cotabato that would produce planting materials for1,000 to 2,000 hectares of plantation in the province.
With the existing nurseries in Sultan Kudarat province, it is expectedthat at least 4,000 hectares will be developed in [other parts of] CentralMindanao within the next 12 months or so, he said.
Central Mindanao is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, NorthCotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of Cotabato,Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal and General Santos City.
Narciso urged the cultivation of palm oil in other parts of CentralMindanao (Region 12) owing to the vast tract of lands suitable for thecrop’s growth.
Mamutur Cariga, chief of the Department of Environment and NaturalResources-12 Forest Resources Development Division, said that 96,470hectares of land are readily available for the cultivation of palm oil inthe region.
These are mostly forest grass lands owned by the government that potentialpalm oil investors could use through an agreement with the state, saidCariga, who is also DENR's official representative to the PPDCI.
Citing 2003 figures, he said about 20,000 hectares of land all over thecountry are planted to palm oil.
He said 75,000 hectares is needed to meet the local demands of theproduct.
Palm oil, aside from being an ingredient in making margarine andshortenings, is also used in the manufacture of soaps or detergents, amongothers.