BARMM Approves P100-M Abaca Fiber Processing Investment

BARMM Approves P100-M Abaca Fiber Processing Investment

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The PHP100-million investment is set to open in Lanao del Sur after the Regional Board of Investments of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-BARMM) approved Tuesday the registration of Hong Kong Feng Seng Heritage Philippines, Inc. (HK FSH) for the business partnership.

The firm will put up an abaca fiber processing plant in Barangay Calilangan, Balabagan, Lanao del Sur where the Hofer Hacienda is located.

In a statement, lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI chair, said the new investment is the first-ever fully mechanized abaca processing plant to be set up in the BARMM.

The joint venture between HK HFS and Hofer Hacienda is seen as a big boost to existing and potential abaca farmers to maximize their produce since there is now an organized export market.

“As the year closes, BARMM has shown the benefits of peace in terms of more willing investors in the region,” Mastura said, adding the confidence shown by business leaders was viewed as a vote of confidence on the leadership of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim.

Manolito Hofer, HK FHS Chief Executive Officer, said the project forms part of his advocacy to help end the armed struggle and push development in his home province, Lanao del Sur.

“I am optimistic that with the start of this facility, more opportunities will come to BARMM,” he added.

HK FHS plans to establish additional 10,000 hectares of abaca plantations through contract growing all over the region including the Zamboanga Peninsula to generate around 20,000 or more workers in the next few years.

The firm will also set up an abaca tissue culture laboratory and nursery to supply its plantation needs.

Initially, the nursery targets at 2,000 plantlets for 1,000 hectares in its first year of operations and increases as the project expands in the years to come.

The plant, which initially employs 107 workers, has a starting capacity of 12,000 metric tons of abaca fiber at a 10 percent increase annually.

All products will be exported to China for pulp making through Bloomfield (Xingtai) Specialty Paper Co. Ltd. that supplies pulps to paper mills in China and other parts of the world.

Minister Abuamri Taddik of the Ministry of Trade, Investments and Trade (MTIT-BARMM) said the region has developed an abaca industry roadmap focused on Lanao del Sur envisioned to maximize the potential of the areas, empower the labor force through good agricultural practices and alleviate the lives of its constituents.

Abaca is known worldwide as the “Manila Hemp”, with the Philippines as top producer and exporter.

The abaca fiber is considered the strongest of natural fibers. It is three times stronger than cotton.

Based on the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority 2018 data, BARMM is among the top five abaca producing regions in the Philippines contributing 10.07 percent of the country’s total abaca production. Lanao del Sur is second to Sulu in abaca production in BARMM and ranks eighth in the country.

The province has an approximate 5,621 hectares with an average yield of 0.69 metric tons per hectare of abaca production.

As a new investment, HK FSH is qualified to avail of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives from the regional government such as income tax holidays (ITH), duty-free importation on capital equipment and other applicable incentives upon the start of the project’s commercial operation. (PNA)

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