The government has yet to identify sizeable land areas for the large-scale commercial farming requirements of the group of businessman Manuel Pangilinan, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Wednesday.
“We are still identifying locations. Mr. Pangilinan wants a sizeable land area which is not readily available,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in an interview.
To recall, Pangilinan said that his group has intentions to develop plantation-type agricultural enclaves, noting that the company asked the DA to look for possible areas—particularly in Mindanao.
Pangilinan, the managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., said they are interested in forming a new company for his agricultural investments in the Philippines with PT Indofood, a unit of an Indonesian conglomerate.
Indofood operates plantations in Indonesia for the production of palm oil, sugar, rubber, coffee and cacao. It’s palm oil plantation alone covers 240,000 hectares.
Pangilinan is specifically interested in palm oil because of Indofood’s familiarity with the commodity. The executive said they are initially looking for around 30,000 hectares of agricultural land in Davao to establish palm oil farms and processing facilities.
“We cannot just find 30,000 hectares,” said Acala, but noted that the palm oil project is indeed adaptable in Mindanao.
He said that Pangilinan’s group is also welcome to look at investment opportunities in line with the government’s rehabilitation plans in provinces ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“While we still haven’t found large tracts of lands, we are not closing our doors on this potential investments. After the rehabilitation efforts, maybe next year, we will be the one asking for a meeting with Mr. Pangilinan so we can inform him what we have consolidated so far,” he added.
Newly installed rehabilitation czar and former senator Panfilo Lacson is inviting the private sector to participate in the rehabilitation of the typhoon-damaged provinces.
Alcala said that Lacson would meet with the heads of the country’s top 50 companies to present the government’s rehabilitation plan. He will meet with Lacson this week to discuss the rehabilitation plan for the agriculture sector.