COTABATO CITY (Aug3) —The first ever 1,000-hectare Cavendish banana plantation project in Basilan to employ 3,000 workers can now takeoff following Friday’s grant of certificate of registration for the venture.

Chief Minister Hadji Ahod Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao turned over the certificate to the group pushing the project forward in a simple rite at the BARMM capitol here Friday.

The document from the Regional Board of Investments, or RBOI, was received by Lamitan City Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay and Alberto Bacani, president of the transnational Unifrutti Tropical Philippines, Inc.

Furigay said the office of Lamitan City’s chief executive, Mayor Rose Furigay, has been extending extensive interventions needed to accelerate the project’s takeoff.

The setting up of the banana plantation in Baragay Limook in Lamitan City, capital of Basilan, is a joint initiative of the Unifrutti and the Lamitan Banana Corporation, or LABCO, that are also planning to put up another farm in nearby Lantawan municipality in the same province.

Ebrahim said they will support the project through RBOI’s executive director, Hexsan Mabang, and members of its board, among them investments and entrepreneurial analysts Moner Dumama, Suk Baraguir and Mohammad Pasigan.

Bacani said the project, the first ever in Basilan, shall commence within the year.

Furigay said it will help Basilan recover from its losses in coconut production due to the “cocolisap” infestation that destroyed vast swaths of coconut plantations in the province.

“It will also complement the earnings of the province from rubber being produced by local rubber tree farms,” Furigay said.

Basilan is the country’s top producer of dried rubber from latex, or sap collected from the bark of trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) being propagated on lands with rolling terrains.

In a statement Saturday, Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman said the coming in of Unifruitti will boost efforts to prove to prospective investors outside of the province and abroad that the domestic investment climate has rapidly been improving.

Salliman said he is grateful to the BARMM government for helping hasten LABCO and Unifruitti’s multi-million joint Cavendish banana propagation project that could employ thousands of Basilan residents.

[] John Unson [] August 3, 2019 []