MARSMAN ESTATE Plantation Inc.’s (MEPI) offer of a P90,000 per hectare (ha) payment annually to 140 banana farmers remains on the table, the export company said. In a statement on Wednesday, MEPI said 622 of the 762 members of the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (DAMARB-MPC) have agreed to the new deal, which is contained in their amended contract signed last December. “We would like everybody in the community to share in the fruits of the land without leaving anybody behind,” MEPI President and Chief Operating Officer Victor S. Mercado Jr. said. The revised contract between the company and DAMARB-MPC also paved the way for the advanced payment of the annual rental fee for three years, or until 2022. The agreement also specifies that a member of the ARB family will be provided with “with education, health care, life insurance, retirement benefits, and other financial assistance.” The cooperative informed the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council about the new contract on January 7. MEPI, a member of the Marsman Drysdale Group, has been operating a banana plantation since 1969, covering about 2,000 ha in Sto. Tomas town in Davao del Norte. In compliance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, the company donated in September 2000 about 800 hectares to farmer beneficiaries with the condition that it be allowed to lease the area for 30 years, initially at P4,500/ha a year. — Carmelito Q. Francisco