September 27, 2004 KORONADAL CITY -- Palm oil industry players in thecountry are eyeing the development of another 4,000 hectares of land inCentral Mindanao within the next 12 months.
Ponciano Narciso, president of the Philippine Palmoil Development CouncilInc. (PPDCI), said that industry players have agreed to put up palm oilnurseries in North Cotabato that would produce materials good for 1,000 to2,000 hectares plantation in the province.
"With the existing nurseries in Sultan Kudarat province, it is expectedthat at least 4,000 hectares will be developed in Central Mindanao withinthe 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.
Presently, at least 5,000 hectares of land are planted with palm oil(Elaeis guineensis) in Sultan Kudarat province.
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 some 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 thatpotential palm oil investors could use through an agreement with thestate," said Cariga, also the agency's official representative to thePPDCI.
Citing 2003 figures, Cariga said that about 20,000 hectares of land allover the country are planted to palm oil.
In order to meet the local demands of the product, he said that thereshould be 75,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the country.
Palm oil, aside from being an ingredient in making margarine andshortenings, is also used in the manufacture of soaps or detergents.