AROUND three years from now, Philippines will launch its own pioneering tire brand named "Agila."

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the government is partnering with Finland-based firm Black Donuts Engineering to establish the rubber tire processing plant in North Cotabato.

The international company led by Kai Hauvala visited the country, particularly North Cotabato, last January and is set to come back on February 7 for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the start of feasibility study with the farmers.

“Initially, the group was impressed with our rubber saying it can be a good, quality source for making tire products and proposed to establish (a plant here),” Piñol said.

The agriculture chief said the group proposed to build a $200-million tire factory that can produce four million tires annually.

Philippines has some 140,000 hectares of land devoted to rubber. Areas where rubber are planted are in Zamboanga Peninsula (Western Mindanao), North Cotabato, Basilan, Palawan, Cagayan Valley, Abra, and Negros Oriental, among others.

The partner group suggested the plant shall be installed in President Roxas, North Cotabato as it is ideal to build the facility near the production area to lessen transportation costs.

Also, a 12-megawatt hydropower plant is eyed to be built near the factory beside the Kabacan River.

Piñol said they would organize over thousands of farmers and partner them with Black Donuts Engineering as the producers would become shareholders of the company.

The DA, through its attached agency Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI), had a meeting last January at Kidapawan City to organize about 1,000 rubber producers.

Piñol said the benefits of a Philippine tire brand is importing around 10 million tires yearly amounting around P60 billion import value spent for rubber. On an average one tire costs P6,000.

“Unless we are able to create a local demand for a raw products produced by our farmers we will always be at the mercy of the traders and middlemen and even international market pricing,” he said.

With the establishment of the tire factory, income and jobs will be generated and the raw rubber prices will be stabilized. (ASP)