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ARMM pushes for sustainable agri-business development approach 

Cotabato City (May 26, 2016) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is pushing for sustainable agribusiness development through an environment-friendly land use planning approach.

On May 25, the ARMM, together with the International Finance Corp. of the World Bank and the Hineleban Foundation, launched the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) for the region’s major agribusiness projects.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman of the ARMM's Regional Board of Investment (RBOI) and head of the Regional Cabinet Cluster on Economic Growth, said the HCSA is an approach that would “protect the environment” in large-scale agricultural investments that use vast agricultural lands.

“The High Carbon Stock Approach is about protecting the environment when you invest. You see to it that the environment is not destroyed when you put in big investments like banana plantation, palm oil, cacao plantation, all kinds of agricultural investments,” Mastura said.

The HCSA is part of the Bangsamoro Sustainable Framework that aims at promoting sustainable agricultural investments in ARMM.

In the first quarter of 2016, RBOI-ARMM registered a P1.3-billion project of Gintong Agri Corp., a company engaged in oil palm plantation development. The region already exceeded its target of P900-million worth of investments for that period. In 2015, the agency registered a total of P6.5 billion, the biggest in the history of the ARMM.

The RBOI-ARMM approved eight major investment projects in 2015 led by Al-Sahar Agri Ventures Inc., a Cavendish banana plantation in Maguindanao with a P3.7 billion project. It was the largest single investment in the history of the ARMM.

Investors, Mastura said, continue to put money in the region because of their trust in the good governance initiatives of the present ARMM administration.

Dr. Urooj Malik, Hineleban Foundation chair, said his group is keen in partnering with ARMM’s agencies, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and other local and international nongovernmental organizations, among others, in the implementation of the HCSA at ‘landscape scale’ for the Bangsamoro region.

“This landscape level strategy will be implemented via use of the HCSA, a methodology that distinguishes forest areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon and biodiversity values that may be developed,” Malik said.

“The methodology aims at ensuring a practical, transparent, robust, and scientifically credible approach that is widely accepted to implement commitments to halt deforestation while securing the rights and livelihood of the Bangsamoro people,” Malik added.

Mastura said investors will have clearly defined guidelines for sustainable and responsible agribusiness investment.

Re-elected ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman is supportive of the project noting it is a welcome development making sure that agribusiness investments in the region will help propel economic growth as well as ensure that there will be enough resources and opportunities for the Bangsamoro people now and in the future.

(Bureau of Public Information)

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