BOI in ARMM approves P290-M banana investment project

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File photo of a banana plantation, by PNA

COTABATO CITY – A multi-million investment is coming to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly in Maguindanao, this year, an investment official announced Saturday.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, Regional Board of Investments in ARMM (RBOI-ARMM) chair, said the Board on Friday approved the PHP290-million investment application for the Cavendish banana plantation project of EKASALAM AgriVentures Corp. in Kauran, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Mastura said this is the first time in the history of the RBOI that the project registered was initiated by 100-percent Filipino investors from the locality, who managed to link with the international banana market, particularly Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries.

Mastura said the new investment project is a confirmation that Maguindanao is still the top investment hub of ARMM in terms of agriculture-related projects.

“Last year, the agency registered non-agri projects but this time, the ARMM is back to agricultural investments basing on the applications submitted to RBOI,” Mastura said. “Most of the investments now in the pipeline are agri-based,” he added.

He said EKASALAM will enjoy fiscal incentives, such as the six-year Income Tax Holidays (ITH), as well as other incentives being provided by the government upon the start of its commercial operations.

He said the company will initially develop a 50-hectare Cavendish banana plantation and will later expand it to 250 hectares. The project will generate 265 local jobs.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the EKASALAM project is a breakthrough from the norm that most of the region’s investors are from the outside of ARMM; “but now we have pure locals who are bold enough to establish a multi-million project”.

“The Banana fruit is very important to Filipinos not just because of its food nutritious value but it is also an income earner, job generator, and top export product. On this note, the registration of the project strengthens the initiative of putting ARMM on the map as fourth top banana producer in Mindanao and a key player in the country’s banana industry,” Hataman said.