RP-Bahrain agribiz venture to create 20k jobs

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Manila Bulletin | May 4, 2009

By MARVYN N. BENANING

The Philippines and Bahrain have started talks on an agribusiness project in Mindanao that government hopes would generate 20,000 jobs.

Marriz Agbon, president of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC), a DA-controlled company, said Bahraini Minister for Industry and Commerce Hassan Fakhro and officials of the Bahrain-based Nader & Ebrahim S/O Hassan (NEH) and its Philippine partner, AMA Group Holdings Corp., recently paid a call on President Arroyo to relay their intent to invest in Mindanao's agribusiness sector, particularly in the Davao region.

The venture covers 10,000 hectares initially, Agbon said.

Ebrahim Hassan Mubarak Al-Ameer of NEH and Ambassador Amable Aguiluz V, chairman emeritus of the AMA Group, were present during the call.

"This is an offshoot of President Arroyo's visit last February 4 to Bahrain, when a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a general framework for agriculture and fisheries cooperation between the two countries was signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and Minister Fakhro," Agbon said.

Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat represented the DA during the initial discussions with Bahraini officials on the project.

In a report to Yap, Agbon said that NEH has organized a technical working group to study which crops could be grown commercially in Davao.

The group will submit its recommendations in 180 days from the start of its technical mission, which began March 7, he said.

Among the crops being considered by the Bahraini group are banana, rice, corn, pineapple, coffee and sugar in commercial quantities.

"NEH has committed an initial area of 10,000 hectares for the first five years under the project, which will employ about 2,000 workers per hectare, or a total of 20,000 jobs for the entire project," Agbon said. "Another 100,000 people, representing the families of the workers, will benefit from this venture."

He said NEH and its Philippine partner AMA would provide "social infrastructure support" to the area covered by the project, such as schools and medical facilities NEH, which has already invested in 2,500 hectares of land in Davao, had built schools and health clinics to benefit the families in the area.

The PADCC, Agbon said, provided NEH-AMA with the list of public lands that could be considered for the project.

He said the crops to be harvested under this agribusiness venture would be sold locally and in Bahrain and other markets overseas.

Earlier, the Philippines and Bahrain had formed a joint committee to oversee the smooth and effective implementation of its MoU on agriculture and fisheries cooperation.

Under the MoU, Manila and Manama committed to reinforce bilateral cooperation in the areas of plant science, crop technology, vegetable and fruit preservation, biotechnology, post-harvest technology, livestock and fisheries, organic agriculture, aquaculture, coastal and deep-sea fishing management, irrigation and water resources, halal industry.

Both parties committed under this MOU to achieve greater cooperation in these areas through the following efforts:
  1. Exchange of science or technical materials and information in agriculture and fisheries;
  2. Exchange of professionals, scientists, technical experts and trainees;
  3. Conduct of studies related to areas of mutual interest;
  4. Organization of training workshops, seminars and conference in areas of mutual interest;
  5. Conduct of promotional and facilitation activities including agricultural products, trade fairs and special exhibitions;
  6. Cooperation in the areas of food and commercial sectors and food industries, technology transfer and innovation, implementation of activities related to trading in agricultural products through meetings, seminars, and other methods considered appropriate, and
  7. Cooperation in other related areas to be identified and agreed upon by the countries, such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures relating to the import or export of agricultural and fisheries products.
Original source: Manila Bulletin
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