DAVAO CITY — The P1.02-billion Davao Food Complex project, which was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board at the end of April, is expected to boost the agriculture sector’s contribution to the Davao Region’s economy.
“With the NEDA Board’s approval and the finalization of the project documents, we expect this will be offered within the year, so this succeeds, construction will commence,” NEDA-Davao Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim said during the recent 2017 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) presentation.
The National Development Company under the Department of Trade and Industry is now preparing the tender documents for bidding.
Ms. Lim pointed out that while agriculture is the region’s major industry, it contributed the least to the GRDP, which grew at a double-digit rate of 10.9% for the first time.
The Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) sector accounted for 11.2%, while the services sector was the highest at 49.6%, followed by the industry sector at 39.2%.
“We are concerned that our primary sector, which is agriculture, has contributed least to the region’s GRDP,” Ms. Lim said, noting that this is mainly due to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon in 2016.
“At this time last year, our agri-based industries were recovering from the drought,” she said.
“This is not to say there are no investments in agriculture from the private sector because we are seeing an expansion in plantations and also in the agricultural processing sector,” the NEDA official added.
The Davao Food Complex, which will rise on a 25-hectare site in Toril, Davao City, will serve as a support facility to the sector with a trading area, an economic zone for food-based industries, cold storage and warehouses, and shops.
In a previous interview, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the complex will also have agri-aqua facilities, specifically for ornamental fish and hatcheries.
Ms. Lim said the project will also involve the development of other infrastructure such as an access road.
Meanwhile, Ms. Lim said the official declaration by the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Davao Region as cacao capital of the Philippines is also expected to increase activity in the sector.
“The declaration is a signal for investors to come in because we are saying that we are open to expanding the production of cacao in the region,” said Ms. Lim, who is also the RDC vice-chair.
She said a group of Japanese investors has established ties with local entrepreneurs in the cacao industry last year for a chocolate processing plant in Davao City.
“We expect the performance of other agricultural industries in the region to increase this year, and not only cacao but also other commodities like banana.” — Carmencita A. Carillo