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Monday, September 16, 2019

Sarawak, Davao chamber to open palm oil opportunities

THE planned sisterhood agreement between the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce of Malaysia and the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) will be an opportunity for the palm oil industry in Davao Region to be exported to Malaysia as their current demand is quite high, said DCCCII president.

At present, the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and DCCCII are reviewing the memorandum of agreement that will solidify the said sisterhood agreement between them.

“Their number priority is they wanted to look at palm oil opportunities in Davao. This is the focus of Malaysians investors now...There were three Malaysian investors I met who really wanted to look at and explore business opportunities in palm oil. These were large plantations. They are looking at Paquibato and Marilog at that time,” said DCCCII president Arturo Milan.

He added the Malaysians are not only interested of the business opportunities in Davao City but as well as the other provinces. Milan also shared that Malaysians are especially interested of palm oil because it was this one of the industries that helped uplift the economy of Kota Kinabalu.

“I guess they reached a saturation point in that island that they wanted also to look at other countries as an opportunity for them to expand their palm oil business,” added Milan.

With palm oil industry, the palm should be processed into oil or other by-products before exporting and almost usually not exported as raw materials. Milan said that is a good thing as processed commodities are more value-adding as compared to their unprocessed counterparts.

“You really need to have a processing facility because you only have 24 hours to process after the harvest or else the output will be reduced considerably [in terms of quality] so it has to be processed immediately,” he said.

At present, DCCCII is organizing a core group on Project Harvest, an agricultural intervention with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The Project Harvest will be done in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and other conflicted areas in Mindanao. Project Harvest will be providing funds for large plantations. Milan said they plan to talk with Indigenous Peoples here in Davao Region for any possibilities of partnerships.

“One of the crops identified in this project, because of the model that was successful in Malaysia, was the palm oil. I don’t know [the exact amount of demand] but there is a huge demand in the world on palm oil. That’s why even Malaysians wanted to expand,” he said.

In Davao Region, the province of Davao Oriental had recently expressed intention of being one of improving their palm oil industry and in the long run be the leading palm oil supplier in Mindanao. Ednar Dayanghirang, the chief of staff of Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, said last Monday, April 9, that they are allotting 5,000 hectares of the ancestral domain of the Mandayas for their palm oil plantation.

A P500-million budget will be loaned to them by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for the construction of the mill while about P1.1 billion will be used for the plantation itself including maintenance.

This project in Davao Oriental will be collaboration of the provincial government with Roy Ponce, the Vice President of Davao Oriental State College, and of a Chinese-Malaysian expert on palm oil industry.

Aside from the palm oil industry, Milan said the partnership with the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce will also look into the improvement of the Halal tourism especially in Mindanao among others.
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