AT LEAST 12,000 jobs have been lost in Davao Region last year due to the issue of aerial spraying as banana companies put on hold their plans for expansion in 2009.

Based on the assessment of the Board of Investments, a 6,000-hectare planned expansion in 2009 was shelved by a giant banana company as the issue of an aerial spray ban continues to loom in the horizon.

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"It is very difficult to court investors. At one glance, big guys can just move out," Gil Dureza, BOI chief, said in an interview.

On an average of two workers per hectare, Dureza said the expansion could have generated 12,000 jobs.

Dureza also reported that based on their assessment, investments in the region since 2007 have continually trodden a downward path.

In 2007, an estimated P7.7 billion worth of investments has been registered with the BOI. This slumped in 2008 to an estimated P3.2 billion.

In 2009, Southern Mindanao only received a total of P1.19 billion worth of investments that registered with the BOI.

A study conducted by the BOI showed that several banana companies have put on hold their plans to expand their ventures due to the issue on aerial spraying.

"Some companies have put investments on hold, others are thinking of going out," Dureza said, adding that India, Africa, and other South East Asian countries are also good investment sites for banana production. (CPM)