ENVIRONMENTAL group Panalipdan Southern Mindanao has called on the City Government to study any proposed investment on oil palm expansions in Marilog and Paquibato districts.

In a statement e-mailed to Sun.Star Davao, the group said that the environmental impact must also be considered not only the economic gains should the city give a green light to investors to plant these areas with oil palm.

"Paquibato is supposedly one of the important water resource base areas of the city while palm oil is not grown organically but dependent on chemical inputs which might pollute the local water resources in the uplands and affect the water supplies in the lowlands, a concern that we both shared," it said.

This concern was raised after the environmental group learned that City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is amenable to develop Marilog and Paquibato as prime agricultural lands.

Earlier, City Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said crops that can be planted in those areas are coffee, cacao, corn, rubber, and oil palm.

He cited the need to develop the upland areas because relying on "urbanization of center" is simply not enough to sustain economic growth.

"The position of the city now is to invite investors," he said, adding that it can help improve the people there to earn a better income.

In a phone interview, Panalipdan spokesperson Belen Galleto added they welcome the statement of the mayor if he wants those areas to be developed for agribusiness.

She, however, reiterated the group's stance that a thorough study must be done on the social and environmental impact.

"Kailangan ba yan ng mga magsasaka?" she asked, saying that what need to be addressed first are the basic needs of the farmers.

She added that food is the primary concern of the farmers while not so much about the income they can reap out of the oil palm, which will be exported later on.

"There is not much evidence to show that local communities benefited from the agribusiness ventures with foreign companies," the group alleged.

City Information Office officer-in-charge Leo Villareal added a Singaporean-company is eyeing partnership with the city on oil palm. A proposal has been submitted to the executive branch, which will then be forwarded to City Council for further approval.