Russia group looks to invest P8 billion for Mindanao banana plantation
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Russian group is eyeing the Philippine banana market as it looks to invest P8 billion for a plantation in the Mindanao region, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

“Russia is keenly looking at the Philippines to supply some of its requirements,” Pinol said a press conference yesterday.

“So I talked to the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) following the directive of the President to support the peace efforts in the Bangsamoro area. DA’s contribution could only be in the form of agriculture investments,” Piñol said.

He said the Philippines has been indirectly supplying bananas to Russia, which it buys from China.

“Now this group would like to do it directly. They have expressed interest in investing in bananas,” Piñol said

The agriculture chief said a Russian business group represented by French-Russian businessman Robert Gaspar is eyeing the MILF main enclave of Camp Abubakar in the boundaries of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur for investments in a midland and highland Cavendish banana project estimated to cost P8 billion.

He added that he recently joined the Russian business group along with  Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu in an actual inspection of the proposed banana plantation area in Barangay Oring, Buldon, Maguindanao.

MILF Central Committee member Ed Guerra and former Buldon vice mayor Hadji Nasruddin Maluag were also present.

Maluag said the available area for agricultural development is 5,000 hectares for midland and 2,000 hectares for highland bananas.

“With development estimated at P1.2 million per hectare, the Russian investment is estimated at P8 billion, “ Piñol said.

Following the successful visit to the area, Piñol said a formal meeting has been arranged at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Central Office on Jan. 24.

“The meeting, which will be attended by the MILF Central Committee member Ed Guerra and leaders of the landowners and representatives of the Russian business group, will discuss the arrangements between the investors and the landowners,” he added.

He added that the project is expected to employ about 10,000 workers, most of whom are former rebel combatants and their children.

Apart from the banana plantation project, the Russian business group is also looking to invest into aquaculture production in Polloc Cove off the town of Parang, Maguindanao as another investment area.

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