By Maya M. Padillo, Correspondent

TAGUM CITY — Hijo Central, a smart and sustainable township project by Hijo Resources Corp. (HRC), is expected to generate around $10 billion in economic activity in Mindanao.

Launched Sunday, Hijo Central will be developed in 132 hectares of the 1,054-hectare HRC property in Madaum, Tagum, Davao del Norte.

HRC Vice Chair and Chief Executive Officer Rosanna Tuason-Fores told media they see huge potential from the project on the back of the economic activity to be generated, such as port usage and logistics, leisure and tourism, agribusiness, property development, and the renewable energy components of the project.

Ms. Fores added that they are currently looking for locators and boutique investors to locate in Hijo Central.

She said they are partnering with sustainable partners for power, water provider and telecommunications.

They will also establish a smart city, a hub for food technology, biotech, and agritech, she said.

“Smart cities are not just for technology. It is about building an ecosystem of smart people, smart place and smart planet. From a farm to a smart city with Hijo Central at the core of it all,” Ms. Fores said.

She added that Hijo Central will include a digital agricultural marketplace, which is a platform that connects farmers to global customers.

In partnership with Kitchen Israel, Ms. Fores said Hijo Central will establish a food innovation hub where entrepreneurial ideas are exchanged, laboratories are available to test these ideas, and where interested proponents can get support from the academe and private sector for commercialization to maximize the value of a growing food market.

In his speech during the launch, Ramon B. Segismundo, president and chief operating officer of HRC, said Hijo Central will support agricultural modernization with farm initiatives and agricultural industrialization with a state-of-the-art banana and coco sugar manufacturing facility worth more than P600 million.

Mr. Segismundo said they will also establish a digital agriculture platform in partnership with indigenous peoples farmers to boost their livelihood.

Through a grant from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), HRC will come up with an app that will help farmers to get enough yield and improve the quality of bananas, he said.

Mr. Segismundo said with the help of Israeli experts and in partnership with DoST, they will also be forming a start-up that will incubate ideas and commercialize practices in agriculture.

“If there is a Silicon Valley, there will be a DavNor Valley in agriculture. Hijo Central is the first smart and sustainability city in Tagum and part of the vast growing region in the Philippines, Metro Davao. We contribute to restore and rebuild the corals and mangrove in our ecosystem and all of these would not be possible without our pro-God, pro-poor, pro-environment leader Rossana Fores,” Mr. Segismundo said.

With a master plan of 10 years, the development of Hijo Central will be done in four phases.

Sujata S. Govada, CEO and managing director of Urban Design Planning International, the master plan partner of HRC for the project, said they have ye to finalize what will be done in the first phase of the project’s development.

“But land development has already started,” Ms. Fores noted.

Ms. Fores also assured that the environment will be protected, with 49% of the development to be devoted to green spaces and 51% for saleable spaces.

“People, place, and planet concept is a smart city framework. Hijo Central will have a lot of space,” Ms. Govada assured.

The HRC site is classified as a Planned Unit Development Zone by the City of Tagum Comprehensive Development Zoning Ordinance. HRC was founded by the late Jose “Boy” Tuason, Jr. who acquired Hijo Plantation, Inc.