THE Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) announced that a P100-million abaca fiber processing plant will rise in Calilangan Village, Balabagan, Lanao del Sur.
This, as the Barmm’s Regional Board of Investment (RBOI) has approved the registration of the Hong Kong Feng Seng Heritage Philippines, Incorporated (HK-FSH).
The registration of HK FSH will allow the company to avail of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives from the government such as income tax holidays, duty free importation on capital equipment and other applicable incentives upon start of the project’s commercial operation.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI chairperson, in a statement Thursday, November 21, said the processing plant, which will initially employ 107 workers, has a starting capacity of 12,000 metric tons of abaca fiber at 10 percent increase annually.
All products will be exported to China for pulp making through Bloomfield (Xingtai) Specialty Paper Company Limited.
Bloomfield supplies pulps to paper mills in China and the world.
Manolito Hofer, HK FHS chief executive officer, said the project is part of his personal advocacy of helping end armed conflicts and push for development in his home province, Lanao del Sur.
“I am optimistic that with the start of this facility, more opportunities will come to Barmm,” Hofer said citing they plan to establish additional 10,000 hectares of abaca plantations, through contract growing, all over the region, including Zamboaga Peninsula, to generate around 20,000 or more workers in the next few years.
He said they will also set up an abaca tissue culture laboratory and nursery to supply its plantation needs. Initially, the nursery targets 2,000 plantlets for 1,000 hectares in its first year of operations and increase it as the project expands in the years to come.
Mastura said that as the year closes, Barmm has shown the benefits of peace in terms of more willing investors in the region, especially since the Bangsamoro Organic Law just began its implementation this year through the administration of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim.
Meanwhile, Trade, Investments and Tourism Minister Abuamri Taddik, said Barmm has developed an abaca industry road map with focused on Lanao del Sur.
Taddik said the road map is envisioned to maximize the potential of Lanao del Sur, empower the labor force through good agricultural practices and alleviate the lives of the people of the lake Lanao.
The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority’s (PhilFIDA) 2018 data showed that Barmm is among the top five abaca producing regions in the Philippines contributing 10.07 percent of the country’s total abaca production.
The province of Lanao del Sur is second to Sulu in abaca production in Barmm and ranks eight in the country.
Lanao del Sur has an approximate 5,621 hectares of abaca plantations with an average yield of 0.69 metric tons per hectare. (SunStar Zamboanga)