With Malaysia, being the world’s biggest exporter, and Indonesia and Thailand ranking next, Montecillo anticipated this congress would be a great venue for Filipinos to learn from the experiences of these countries.
Meanwhile, Montecillo also disclosed the promotion for oil palm farming expansion to Mindanao is also geared towards addressing the shortage of palm oil produce in the country.
The Philippines, he said, “is still a net importer of palm oil.”
The total production in the country, he said, can only cope up 30% of its total demand while 70% is still being imported either from Malaysia or Indonesia.
“We need about 100,000 metric tons of palm oil annually,” Montecillo said, but “only 30% of that or even lesser” is supplied domestically.
Montecillo is eyeing areas in Mindanao like Sarangani, South Cotabato and General Santos City to complement the shortage and reduce importation.
Particularly for Sarangani, Montecillo reported some areas to be potentially viable for oil palm farming that could also create a lucrative livelihood for the local farmers here.
“The potential is very big for Sarangani. We have conducted a lot of surveys already and there are many areas that can be developed,” he said.
Although the “topography is a challenge because majority of the areas are really mountainous,” still Montecillo reported there are areas in Sarangani suitable for the crop.
He also cited the possibility of expanding in Tantangan, South Cotabato and a little area in General Santos City where an initial plantation has already started.
Sarangani Investment Officer Milbie Daguro reported “around 150 hectares are already planted to oil palm in Sarangani and some 20,000 hectares have been surveyed all over the province to be suitable for oil palm farming.”
Daguro said some of the identified areas have existing crops but disclosed what they are targeting are “idle lands to make them productive, create economic activities and job opportunities in the community.”
According to Daguro, there are big companies willing to put up palm oil processing plants in Sarangani “but we need to be able to have at least 5,000 to 10,000 hectares of plantation to sustain a processing plant.”
Presently, the nearest mills are about 120 kilometers from General Santos which are in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and Buluan, Maguindanao. (Beverly Paoyon / SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)