By Roy Mabasa
President Rodrigo Duterte personally witnessed the signing of an agreement between private companies from both the Philippines and Bahrain that will expand its existing banana plantation operation in Mindanao, particularly in Davao, targeting additional 10,000 hectares of farmland for agricultural production.
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed between AMA Group Holdings Corporation and Nader & Ebrahim Sons of Hassan CompanyW.L.L(NEH) Thursday evening (early Friday morning Manila time), will allow both companies to pour in additional investment of $250-million (P12.3 billion) over three to five years to ensure successful implementation of the expansion project.
This project, which is in line with President Duterte’s thrust to develop Mindanao, is expected to produce 560,000 metric tons of agricultural produce with export value of $280-million (P13.9 billion) annually and generate jobs for about 3,000 farm workers and 500 back-office support staff.
The AMA Group was represented by its founder, Dr. Amable Aguiluz V, who is the current Special Envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council. The NEH, on the other hand, was represented by its chairman, Ebrahim Hassan Mubarak Al Ameer. The company engages in various industries from hospitality management, property development, consumer electronics to food distribution.
Present at the signing ceremony held in the Four Seasons in Manama, Bahrain were Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ver. Meanwhile, among those Bahraini businessmen who witnessed the event were Shaikh Duaij bin Isa Al Khalifa, chairman of Bahrain-Asian Traders Committee, and Khalid Almoayed, chairman of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In an earlier interview, Ambassador Ver said that, aside from bananas, the two companies want to invest in pineapples and pulses such as lentil and monggo in Davao and General Santos City.
According to Ver, the bananas harvested in the plantation are not just for the Gulf region or Bahrain but for export to the entire world.