NEW CLARK City in Tarlac is being positioned as a possible center for agri-industrial companies, following a partnership to pursue such initiatives between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The industrial processing sites are expected to provide facilities, capital and production know-how to small farmers, while generating more jobs, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement Thursday.

“New Clark City has the potential to jumpstart and sustain economic growth in the ‘new normal’ because of its vast agricultural resources and strategic location that grants access to markets in both northern and southern Luzon, including Metro Manila,” Mr. Dar said.

The lack of processing and transport are key issues in keeping farm incomes low. Surpluses cannot be tapped for use in preserved products, while middlemen step in to transport produce to markets and take a cut for this service.

Last week, Agriculture Undersecretary Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero and BCDA Vice-President Arrey A. Perez inspected a 30-hectare site in New Clark City for agri-industrial businesses. Some of the facilities being considered are modern multipurpose facilities and a national seed technology park.

The business corridor will complement the planned Clark Fresh Market to be constructed at the Clark Civil Aviation Complex. The market complex will feature an integrated post-harvest facility, catering to niche markets for organic produce, and halal-certified products and premium-quality food products.

BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio B. Dizon said the planned agri-business corridor and the fresh market complex will generate thousands of jobs and boost the development of Tarlac, Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.

Mr. Dizon said the improved connectivity and other planned developments in New Clark City make it the best location for the project.

“This agri-industrial business corridor will not only enhance the productivity of our farmers, but will also boost economic activity in the region,” Mr. Dizon said.

According to Mr. Dizon, construction is expected to start by 2021.

Mr. Dar said the DA is evaluating agri-industrial business corridors at 12 new economic zones identified by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave