By Ali G. Macabalang
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will present to its funding partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines, a P280-M loan program to finance an expansion program for Cassava production farms in the poor towns of Lanao del Sur.
In a meeting in Mataling, Malabang lately, MinDA officials and officers of the Matling Industrial Commercial Corp. (MICC) agreed to fast-track work on a financial loan fund of P240-million loan for an expansion program covering 8,000 hectares.
MinDA Secretary Manny Piñol said the meeting was his second with MICC officials since his earlier visit to the MICC Cassava Starch Production Facility in March.
In the first visit, he said, he “saw the newly-completed Corn Starch Processing facility, MICC’s second, which needed additional production areas to be fully utilized.”
MICC official Sally Mancilla said the second processing facility costingP400-M is not operating because of lack of Cassava tubers, according to Piñol..
The expansion program which would cover 8,000 hectares in several towns in Lanao del Sur is also aimed at reducing poverty in the province which has the highest poverty incidence in the country at 69%.
The proposed expansion area will complement the existing production fields totalling 3,500 hectares.
A Cassava farmer is projected to earn about P70,000 per hectare by planting the recommended variety of MICC, Lakan 1, which has a very high starch content.
Cassava Starch is used for food processing and also industrial uses.
The financial loan package will propose a low-interest loan of P35,000 per hectare for 8,000 hectares, Piñol said.
“With an average landholding of 2 hectares per family, the program is expected to lift up 4,000 families from abject poverty and contribute to the peace gains of the administration of President Duterte in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Sec. Piñol said.
The MICC now manages the decades-old cassava processing plant in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, a component of the Bangsamoro autonomous region.