By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
The Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) has intensified its role in the Mindanao economic development as it joins forces with such other government agencies as the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
SPDA Administrator Abdulghani “Gerry” A. Salapuddin, has participated in the Mindanao Speak Up Leaders’ Meeting through a Zoom Teleconferencing on February 10 with cabinet officials, legislators and representatives from the private sectors. It was led by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
Incidentally, as Administrator and CEO of SPDA, Salapuddin is one of the Directors of the Board of MinDA.
MinDA and SPDA relationship
Like NEDA, MinDA is an economic and development planning body for Mindanao, tasked to consolidate the development agenda from the different regions. All the Chairmen of the 6 regions of Mindanao sit in the MinDA Board of Directors.
On the other hand, SPDA is a corporate agency under the Office of the President of the Philippines, with social responsibility that also covers all of Mindanao. It is primarily tasked of implementing the government socio-economic enterprises and business ventures.
As part of its social responsibility, SPDA is mandated to help in the implementation of socio-economic programs for the Moro Mujahideen, mainly, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
One of its flagship projects for the Moro mujahideen is the proposed implementation of a holistic socio-economic approach called the PEACE Villages. The term PEACE literally means the absence of war or trouble. But it is also the acronym of People Economic Advancement and Community Empowerment or PEACE for short.
SPDA is seeking to collaborate with both OPAPP and the BARMM to implement this noble project for the Moro Freedom Fighters.
After trying so hard to invite willing investors to locate in the 26,000 hectare agricultural land of SPDA in the Municipities of Wao and Amai Manabilang, Lanao del Sur, finally, two foreign multinational companies are locating and investing in the area.
In Wao Municipality, the American company Asia Pacific Precision Agriculture Group or ASPAC AG had signed a MOU with SPDA to initially start developing at least 2,500 hectares of SPDA agricultural land.
ASPAC AG will cultivate Corn to be supplied to Lam San Company in Sultan Kudarat municipality in Maguindanao and for use as corn sileage to be supplied to an Arab company for use as Halal feeds to their animals.
While KENNEMER FOODS International, a Dutch multinational company will start developing and farming in 1,500 hectares of SPDA agricultural land in Amai Manabilang Municipality for the cultivation of Cacao and Coffee, which it supplies to Mars Food International, manufacturer of M & M Chocolate and Starbucks respectively.
Both foreign companies had already signed an MOU with SPDA last year. Both foreign multinational companies will be utilizing precision and state of the art agriculture technology to have more yields. They will also adopt a contract growing scheme with the farmers in both municipalities in order to widen the economic benefits to the people in the communities.
The 26,000 hectare property of SPDA had been approved and declared as the Mindanao Special Economic Zone Area (MINSEZA) by MinDa in one of its meeting during the time of the late Sec. Abul Khayr Alonto.
SPDA intends to comply with the requirements in order that Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) can recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to be declared as a special economic zone.
Mindanao Speak Up Leaders’ Forum
Meanwhile, the proposal to hold the Mindanao Leaders’ Forum was actually suggested by Philippine Export Processing Zone Chairperson Charito Plaza and SPDA administrator Salapuddin to MinDA chair Manny Pinol.
As President Duterte is on his last years in Office, MinDA had decided to seek a review of what so far had been accomplished for Mindanao. Likewise, the meeting also intended to identify what are the promises not yet delivered by the Duterte administration. JIJ