By Diana Tomale, Intern
DAVAO CITY –The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) exspressed optimism of a “better-shaped” Mindanao this year based on the island’s remarkable economic growth last year.
MinDA said Mindanao is expected to post 7-8 percent growth in gross regional domestic product last year pending submission of all year-end data from government agencies.
Romeo U. Montenegro, MinDA’s director for Investment Promotion and Public Affairs Office, ascribed it to improvement in various sectors of the economy and society.
These include shaping of better prospects for the peace process, the influx of investments and the acceleration of construction of infrastructure and power projects in Mindanao, he said.
“They are looking forward for further expansion of agribusiness to supply the growing demand in the international market,” he said, citing increasing interest in banana, cacao, rubber, coconut, coffee and seaweeds.
Montenegro said the country’s entry into the economic integration within the 10-member economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) “is another important development”.
“By next year, all countries of Asean will be integrated and this means that Mindanao will have products coming from nine other countries of value and cost that is cheaper,” he said.
Pedro Arnado, spokesperson of farmer’s group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the expansion in agribusiness “only serves multi-national corporations”.
“This will mean the confiscation of farmers’ land as corporations assume Carpable areas then convert it from agricultural to commercial,” he said.
Arnado refers Carpable areas to lands applied for titles under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Ebenezer Tan of the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said they “expect further environmental plunder this year and coming years because of the government’s pro-capitalist program.”
“Agribusiness won’t contribute genuine development to the lives of the people as agri-corporations give meager wages to workers. Further, agribusiness will only contribute to the worsening food security problem of the country,” Tan said.
Aside from the expansion of agribusiness, Montenegro said that the improved power situation in the region would attract potential investors, both foreign and local.
The signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be “an important ingredient in the development of Mindanao.” (davaotoday.com)