May 212013

MANILA, Philippines – The group of businessmen Manuel V. Pangilinan is eyeing 30,000 hectares of land in Davao Oriental for palm oil production.

Pangilinan, the managing director and chief executive officer of Hong Kong based First Pacific Co. Ltd. said the conglomerate’s agribusiness unit PT Indofood has sent a team to Davao Oriental to assess available areas  suitable for palm oil production.  

“We’re still waiting for the assessment of Indofood with regards to a potential palm oil plantation,” he told reporters yesterday. “So far only palm oil has been assessed,” he added.

The total hectarage is only 10 percent of what Indofood has secured in Indonesia.

Indofood’s palm oil cultivation area in Indonesia is placed at around 240,000 hectares, making it the third largest palm oil producer in the world.

“It is large in Philippine standards but not in global standards,” said Pangilinan.

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Pangilinan’s group is planning to put up an integrated palm oil production chain starting from palm cultivation to producing crude palm oil from palm branches.

Crude palm oil could be processed further into cooking oil and other applications.

“We will build not only a plantation but also factories,” said Pangilinan.

He said the finished products could be used for domestic consumption or for export.

Pangilinan earlier said that his group is looking at sizeable agricultural areas that could be leased for cultivation of  palm oil, sugar, rubber, coffee and cacao.

He said the conglomerate is more interested in palm oil production because palm trees are more resilient to typhoons.

He said that despite the attractiveness of the banana industry in the country, he is concerned about the impact of weather changes on banana plants.

“Bananas are attractive to us because it is a commodity in which the Philippines has some degree of influence on the prices. We are one of the largest exporters in the world of fresh bananas. But I’m worried that with the typhoons hitting the eastern seaboard of Mindanao, we are concerned with the impact of the weather change on the industry itself. They’re quite fragile plants. So we are worried if these weather change continues. Palm oil is more sturdy,” he said.

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