Arab investors keen on Mindanao agri prospects

May. 28, 2009

Davao City — The Minister of Agriculture from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is excited by business opportunities in Mindanao.

Heading a 23-member delegation composed of representatives from the KSA government and private sector, Minister Dr. Fahad A. Bal Ghunaim was recently in the city to explore investment prospects in agriculture. “This creates an opportunity for both countries to benefit from its comparative advantages.”

In a business matching session, the group also met with local businessmen, who submitted proposals on banana plantation and processing, livestock and poultry, pineapple production, cattle raising, grain production and pangasius fish production.

“This visit from the Arabian Ministry of Agriculture and their private sector counterparts is an opportunity for us to open up markets for Mindanao’s vast and abundant agricultural produce,” said Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Council (Medco). “We hope that this will strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and initiate trade and investment activities.”

The agricultural and investment mission was organized by the Mindanao Business Council and the Agriculture Department of Southern Mindanao.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap was also on hand to tour the delegation to banana processing plants and plantations in Davao del Norte as well as the Panabo City Mariculture Park.

Yap said the Arabs are also keen on acquiring tracts of land for planting and processing and might even set up a special economic zone (SEZ) in Mindanao for these investors. He said they just need to be convinced to pour in more investments as they have the financing ability.

Yap admiited that the Arab investors are concerned for the security of their money because of the conflict in Mindanao. However, Atty. Ishak Mastura, chairperson of the Regional Economic Authority, who presented investment prospects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said that these Arabs have also poured investments in other areas in the world where there is conflict.

ARMM investment prospects include seaweeds, coconut, rubber and cassava. (MEDCo/PIA XI)

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