Davao Oriental found suitable for oil palm

Subscribe Now April 23, 2013 at 07:55am

A team from a major Indonesian firm has identified at least 20,000 hectares in Davao Oriental as potential areas for oil palm.

The provincial government, quoting agronomist and soil scientist Hisar Sihombing of PT Indofood Co., said that based on climate, topography and soil identity, the town of Baganga alone has about 5,000 hectares suitable for an oil palm plantation.

Mr. Sihombing represents one of Indonesia’s biggest agribusiness companies, and is part of the Salim Group that has a stake in Philippine companies through Metro Pacific Investment Corp.

Mr. Sihombing said in a report released to media that with the province’s coconut trees destroyed, a gradual shift to oil palm is advised given the parcels of land suitable to the crop.

Oil palm grows on soil that is 400 meters above sea level, where there is more rainfall. Unlike the traditional coconut varieties that could take as long as seven years to bear fruit, oil palm has an average gestation period of only five years and is usually shorter in height compared to coconut trees and thus could withstand strong winds.

Mr. Sihombing added that his company can even provide farmers with technology on how to grow other crops while they wait for their oil palms to mature.

Another company official, Vicki Mari M. Vicencio, head of the company’s Enterprise Risk Management Division, said that pursuing the venture will be a good alternative for the province, which has long anchored its economy on coconut.

Ms. Vicencio said oil palm products have been among the raw materials used in various basic and non-basic commodities and that even the wastes can be converted into organic fertilizer. She added the province can also apply the business model that Indofood has applied in producing crude palm oil.

“In Indonesia, every one estate, which is equivalent to a 5,000-hectare plantation, is being built with a plantation mill and all necessary facilities such as roads, bridges, canals, among many others,” she added.

Before the typhoon struck in December last year, Davao Oriental was considered the top producer of coconut among the country’s provinces. However, typhoon Pablo destroyed about six million coconut trees in at least three towns.

Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon said the provincial government has started looking at alternative sources of livelihood for the people in these towns and adjacent towns, so they will not be too dependent on coconut.

Late last month, Ms. Malanyaon visited Jakarta, Indonesia to look into the palm oil production in that country. -- C. Q. Francisco

Source: bworldonline.com

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