Russian group eyes P8-B investment in Maguindanao banana plantation

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Emmanuel F. Piñol
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol -- PHILSTAR

A RUSSIAN group is looking to invest P8 billion to build a banana plantation in Camp Abubakar, the main enclave of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.

“The project is expected to employ about 10,000 workers, most of whom former rebel combatants and their children,” Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

He and Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu on Monday accompanied the Russian group led by French-Russian businessman Robert Gaspar to inspect the proposed banana plantation area in Barangay Oring, Buldon, Maguindanao.

“Right now, Russia is keenly looking at the Philippines to supply some of its requirements. Example, we don’t know this but Russia has been buying Philippine bananas through China…We indirectly export bananas to Russia. Now, this group would like to do it directly. They have expressed interest to invest in cavendish bananas,” Mr. Piñol said in a press conference in Pasay on Tuesday.

The Agriculture chief said the Russian businessmen expressed interest in investing in the Philippines after the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Russia in May 2017.

The Russian group is also in aquaculture production in Polloc Cove in Maguindanao, Mr. Piñol said.

“Everything that we will produce here, especially bananas and sea products will have a waiting market in Russia,” Mr. Gaspar was quoted by Mr. Piñol as saying. — R.J.N.Ignacio