Datu Paglas Banana-Peace Emissary in Middle East?By: Moh. Rudy Calasingin | THE PEOPLE'S DAILY FORUM | August 15, 2001
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COTABATO CITY --- The Iranians would soon be eating bananas produced in Muslim Mindanao with Isaraeli technology. Datu Ibrahim “Toto” P. Paglas III, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paglas Group of Companies said his company would soon be opening market for their banana in Iran with a brand name “Datu Paglas”. “The brand name of our banana presently is Chiquita Banana with markets in Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, and Korea.”, Toto Paglas said. The Datu Paglas banana has 1,002 hectares plantation farm in the Municipality of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao Province, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. “Almost two thousand people – Muslims and Christians—are employed, working together. I call that close cultural harmony,” Toto Paglas said. The Datu Paglas banana firm exports banana weekly with two vessels for Saudi Arabia and Japan, according to Toto Paglas. “The Banana industry is labor intensive and therefore employs a lot of people I think this is the key to peace in this area”, Toto Paglas said. Toto Paglas said that the competitive globalization requires modern technique of agriculture. “We contracted the expertise of Plastro Irrigation & Infrastructures System to construct what they call “drift irrigation” represented by its vice President for Operations and Marketing, Yaal Pecker who is an Israelite,” Toto Paglas said. According to Toto Paglas all the banana varieties planted in his company’s plantation were developed in Israel. “In agriculture, Israel is the best. They are call in the Book as the chosen people,” Toto Paglas said. Toto Paglas said they are aspiring to become ISO 14,000 as a chemical-free banana plantation. “We want to protect the environment because if we cannot protect the environment we cannot protect the human beings in this world,” Toto Paglas said. The Datu Paglas banana plantation is using organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer. “We are using chicken manure and decomposed banana stalks for fertilizer. We are also using chemical-free insecticides and pesticides” Toto Paglas said. The irrigation water, according to Toto Paglas, is recycled through a reservoir and not a drop of it gets to nearby Lake Buluan, home of the prized Pigek fish. Iran, under the late Imam Ayatullah Khomein was the chief critic of Israel because of territorial dispute. The late Iranian spiritual leader said that all Israel will drown if all the Muslims in the Middle East would turn towards Israel and throw at Israel a bucket of water each. When Datu Paglas banana finally invades the Iranian market, the Iranians might realized that the Muslims, the Christians and the Jews can live side by side in peace and prosperity and the protection of human beings in the world through chemical-free agriculture using the Israeli’s technological know-how as modeled by Datu Paglas banana plantation in Muslim Mindanao.