Foreign investors target palm industry in Mindanao
Published: 07 Jan 2014
Posted in:  Japan | Marubeni | Philippines
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PNA | 7 January 2013
A man rides on a water buffalo in a flooded palm oil plantation on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on January 4, 2011. A report presented to JICA, says foreign companies like Marubeni are looking for “big contiguous area” of 100,000 ha that they can lease for 100 years for oil palm plantations in the Philippines Province of Mindanao. (Photo: CNN)

Foreign investors target palm industry in M’nao

By Philippine News Agency

At least six foreign companies have expressed keen interest to invest in several palm-oil ventures jointly with Filipino partners in Mindanao.

In a report presented to consultants of Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), palm-oil cluster industry Chairman Raul Nuevas said most of these foreign investors are looking for “big contiguous area” of 100,000 hectares that they can lease for 100 years.

“It’s not possible to find big whole areas of 100,000 hectares in Mindanao that they can lease for a hundred years. We can’t find these kind of areas for them,” Nuevas said.

The palm-oil industry cluster based in Caraga Region, according to Nuevas, had been receiving several serious inquiries from many foreign investors in the Asia-Pacific region, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and the Middle East, after a recent industry conference they held in Cagayan de Oro.

Nuevas said these foreign inquiries came from the New Britain Palm Oil Ltd., Pertamina Indonesia, Perkeburas Nasuntara, Univanich, Bali Palm Oil and Marubeni Corp. All these companies expressed keen interest to invest in palm-oil ventures in Mindanao.

There are currently 75 palm oil investors in Caraga who are mostly local farmers and big-time growers of oil palms. The Philippines’s biggest investors today are two Caraga-based companies: Filipinas Palm Oil Plantations that runs huge tracts of farmland planted to oil palms; and the Caraga Oil Refinery Inc. which processes and refines the palm-oil to meet the huge demand of the domestic market.

Due to this huge demand and very limited supply, the palm-oil industry can only supply 30 percent of the domestic market, while the balance of 70 percent is imported by industrial users of this commodity in the Philippines, according to Nuevas.

To reduce imports of palm-oil and boost the production output of the country’s palm-oil industry, total investment to make this possible is set at P212 billion and allocated as follows: plantations, P62 billion; oil mills, P20 billion; infrastructure, P100 billion; and refineries, P30 billion.

Nuevas said this is part of the Palm Oil Industry Road Map that was prepared and developed by the Philippine Coconut Authority, which has given its full support and funding to develop the industry in the coming years.