The transformation of Caraga into a major producer of palm oil in the next few years is in the offing with an oil firm eyeing to develop an initial 50,000 ha of land in the region this year.
Brielgo Pagaran, regional director for Department of Trade and Industry–Caraga, said the Eastern Petroleum Group of Companies (EPGC) is eyeing to set up a palm oil plantation, particularly in the Agusan provinces, where lands are declared suitable for oil palm production.
“Everything is now in the process for this multi-million palm oil development investments by this independent oil company,” Pagaran said adding that EPGC wants to forge long-term leases of at least 25 years, and tap contract growers for the plantation.
Pagaran said that if the plans pushed through, Caraga would earn more than other Mindanao regions out of oil palm plantations, auguring well for the region’s economic growth in the long-term.
With the development of more areas for plantation, which is expected to boost the palm oil as a new growth industry, Pagaran also said labor demand would also increase, which would translate to income for more families.
“With the targeted initial 50,000 hectares palm oil plantation development, more than 5,000 families will benefit of the program and will generate employment in the region,” he said.
The independent oil company is eyeing to develop at least 200,000 hectares palm oil plantation across the region in the coming years, according to Pagaran.
Currently, the total area planted for palm in the region is 25,827.93 hectares, according to data provided by the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc.
In Caraga, most of oil palm is grown in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. These plantations produce over 300,000 metric tons of palm oil yearly.
Oil palm is the “tree” that produces palm oil. It is touted to have the highest content among oil producing plants, including coconut and olive. Palm oil is used in several food products, such as cookies, crackers and pastries. CLC