PH gov't budgets P50M for oil palm plantation
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – A P50-million ($1.07 million) budget has been alloted by the government for an ambitious, 10-year program to have 1 million hectares of oil palm plantation in the country.
The budget has already been set aside for the purchase of imported planting materials to jumpstart the program, Presidential Adviser for Food Security Francisco "Kiko" Pangilinan said.
The country needs 500,000 to 1 million hectares in the next 10 years to become a major industry player in the Asian region, he said.
Oil palm production in the Philippines has been picking up in Mindanao where an estimated 70,000 hectares are already in place.
Massive conversion of idle lands for oil palm plantations could make oil palm a major agricultural crop in Maguindanao alone, which has a potential 100,000-hectare idle land available, Pangilinan said.
“Palm oil production is key to poverty alleviation,” Pangilinan said in his keynote speech at the opening of the 2-day 9th National Oil Palm Congress that concluded Thursday, August 20.
The Philippines is lagging behind major oil palm producers in Asia and the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) corridor.
Philippine Palmoil Development Council Incorporated (PPDCI) president Alfredo Montecillo said there is a need to promote oil palm production among small landowners.
A well-managed oil palm farm can generate about P100,000 ($2,141.79) per hectare per year. The average landholding of a Philippine farming family is two hectares.
Montecillo added that Mindanao is already ripe for the full development of the oil palm industry, citing existing infrastructure and sufficient power supply by 2016. He also cited the key role of General Santos City which hosts the international-standard Makar wharf.
A chartered city, General Santos is hub of shipping and air link in the south central region of Mindanao.
Palm oil has already surpassed soybean and corn as source of vegetable oil supply in the world, Montecillo said. The Philippines continues to import oil palm from Malaysia which could reach $600 million this year. The country, meanwhile, exported $36 million to the international market.
Total world oil palm exports in 2014 were valued at $34 billion, PPDCI said. Indonesia supplied $17 billion; Malaysia, $12 billion; and Thailand $200 million.
In Indonesia, which only has 6 million hectares of oil palm, the oil palm industry is worth $50 billion annually. – with reports from Edwin Espejo / Rappler.com
$1 = P46.69