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PH gov't works to re-open massive banana plantation in Maguindanao

The Philippine government, through the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), is working to re-open and rehabilitate a huge banana plantation in Maguindanao.

This was announced by Emmanuel Piñol, chairperson of MinDA and former Agriculture Secretary.

“A little over a month after President Rodrigo Duterte directed the MinDA to settle the problems, which led to the closure of two huge banana farms in Maguindanao Province, one of the farms is set to start rehabilitation soon,” Piñol said in a recent Facebook post.

He said this development came after a series of consultations and negotiations with all the parties involved, including the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), which agreed to fund the rehabilitation.

The banana farm that will be re-opened is portions of the former La Fruttera Banana Plantation, a 1,500-hectare farm in Datu Paglas. Piñol said he and staff, together with DBP officials led by Director Rogelio Garcia and Southern Mindanao Vice President Annie Veloso, recently met with stakeholders of the plantation, including members of the Paglas Family and Unifrutti President Alberto Bacani.

During the meeting, it was agreed that the Paglas Family, which owns 500-hectares of the plantation, will take over the operation of their area under the Paglas Corporation and acquire the assets of Unifrutti Group Philippines (UGP), which is owned and chaired by businessman John Perinne.

UGP also agreed to provide technical and management assistance to Paglas Corp. in rehabilitating the plantation and make it productive in one year.

It will likewise provide Paglas Corp. a marketing agreement that would ensure the repayment of the loan acquired from DBP.

And as mentioned, the DBP agreed to finance the rehabilitation and operation of the plantation under Paglas Corp. with the total loan amount to be based on the assets of the corporation.

Since the area to be reopened is only one-third of the original area, which employed about 2,000 workers, many of whom are former rebel combatants, MinDA recommended to Paglas Corp. the implementation of a work rotation schedule so that all workers could be accommodated, Piñol further said.

MinDA, with the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense, will continue consolidating assistance for the displaced workers until work has restarted.

“With the settlement of the problem in the Datu Paglas banana plantation, MinDA will now focus on the resolution of a similar problem which led to the closure of another banana farm, the Al Sahar Farm in Talayan, Maguindanao, which also employed former rebel combatanants,” Piñol said.