CONSTRUCTION will start this year for the initial residential units and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) graduate school at the Agriya mixed-use complex of Damosa Land, Inc. (DLI) in Panabo City, Davao Del Norte.

DLI First Vice President Ricardo F. Lagdameo said the company has so far sold about 40% of the initial 177 lots for the residential component, which is expected to generate 70% of the project’s total revenue.

Mr. Lagdameo, in an interview during the project’s formal launch on Feb. 13, said the initial phase of the project is estimated to cost about P4 billion, but the total investment has yet to be determined for what the firm sees as a long-term development for the 88-hectare complex.

“It is really a long-gestation project,” he said.

Agriya, conceptualized by architect Felino A. Palafox, Jr., is designed as an “agricultural metropolis” or agropolis, and the name is a play on “Agricultural City of Anflocor,” the Floirendo family’s holding firm that includes DLI and the flagship Tagum Agricultural Development Co., Inc.

Macy P. Bibat, project head, said the company will showcase the first model house by next month and start building before the end of the year.

“We are not really advocating that they (lot buyers) put up a big house on the lot,” said Ms. Bibat, noting that the project promoters want to encourage backyard farming in keeping with the agropolis concept.

The lots range between 202 to 450 square meters priced at P6 million to P15 million.

Mr. Lagdameo said that when the company turns over the properties, it will be giving out seedlings to the owners to get them started on their own small farm.

For the university campus, Ms. Bibat said UPLB is scheduled to start with the first building by the second quarter this year.

The 1,500-square meter building will house classrooms and an auditorium, among other office components.

DLI donated three hectares for the UPLB extension unit, which will be focusing on graduate studies in agriculture.

Ms. Bibat said the state-run school will later set up greenhouses and laboratories.

Mr. Lagdameo said the firm is planning to invite other educational institutions to set up a campus for primary and secondary education.

“We also want to have here a K to 12 (kindergarten to grade 12) school.”

Meanwhile, the company is also finalizing Agriya’s Naturetainment area, which will be open to visitors.

The agri-tourism area features a living crop and aquaculture farm where guests can learn how food is grown and have a better “appreciation of agriculture,” Ms. Bibat said.

It will have a “pick-and-pay” section where children can harvest vegetables to bring home.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, speaking at the project launch, said Naturetainement will be part of the campaign on agri-tourism, which is being promoted as a key segment for the tourism industry.

“It is a noble thing what you are doing here at Agriya, highlighting the merits and importance of agriculture,” said Puyat. — Carmelito Q. Francisco