SoCot eyes foreign investments for expansion of oil palm farms

By Anna Liza Cabrido

August 19, 2018, 12:19 pm

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the entry of foreign investors to help further expand the province's growing oil palm plantations.

Emmanuel Jumilla, head of the South Cotabato Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office, said Friday they have initiated discussions with potential investors for the development of more oil palm farms in parts of the province.

Jumilla said they are currently working on establishing linkages with palm oil producers in Indonesia to explore possible expansions in the area.

Last month, officials from the Indonesian consulate in Davao City offered to facilitate investments by Indonesian palm oil companies during a visit in the province.

"We're mainly offering the development of some of our idle lands for these projects," Jumilla said in a media forum.

Based on a report from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, he said around 1,500 hectares of land are currently planted with oil palm within the province's 10 towns and lone city.

Jumilla said they are currently encouraging local farmers to plant oil palm in idle lands within their farms as an alternative crop.

He clarified that the initiative does not include the conversion of existing farms, especially those planted with palay, corn and other food crops.  

 “We're offering it as an option to turn vacant lands into productive farmlands,” Jumilla added.

The official said the provincial government will continue to focus on the expansion program in the next seven years in a bid to double the existing oil palm plantations.

Citing their discussions with Indonesian representatives, he said a palm oil refinery plant could be established in the province to facilitate the production palm oil by-products.

The opening of a refinery plant in the area will be a big boost to the province's oil palm sector as by-products of palm oil are much more expensive than raw oil palm, he added. (PNA)