A BAHRAINI company has signed a major deal aimed at increasing crop production in the Philippines and boost food security.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is in Bahrain on a two-day official visit as part of a Middle East tour, witnessed the signing of the agreement between AMA Group Holdings Corporation and Nader and Ebrahim Sons of Hassan Company (NEH).
The memorandum of understanding will result in a joint venture, RP Bahrain Harvest, which is a 500-hectare banana plantation in Saranggani in Mindanao.
“This venture is actually an offshoot of the MoU signed by the governments of the Philippines and Bahrain on February 4, 2009,” said a copy of the agreement obtained by the GDN yesterday.
“The parties agreed to expand their operations in Davao as well as in other regions in Mindanao, targeting 10,000 hectares of additional farmland for the production of agricultural crops other than banana such as pineapple and pulses (munggo, lentils, peanuts, etc).”
The expansion is aimed at helping Manila boost economic development in Mindanao.
AMA founder-owner and Philippine President’s Special Envoy to the GCC Dr Amable R Aguiluz V signed the agreement with NEH chairman Ebrahim Al Ameer.
“The parties agreed to acquire, by lease from land owners, an area of 10,000 hectares with additional investment of $250 million over three to five years,” said the agreement.
“When operation is full, the total expected volume of production is 560,000 metric tonnes with export value of $280m annually.
“It will employ 40,000 farm workers and 500 back-office support staff.”
The agreement also involves the setting up of a foundation to train and upgrade the skills of workers and their families as well as transfer of technology to promote ecologically-friendly farming and processing techniques.
Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Under-Secretary Ruth Castelo, who is part of the President’s delegation, also met Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board members.
BCCI second vice-chairman Abdulhameed Al Koheeji welcomed the delegation at Bait Al Tijjar in Sanabis and the meeting discussed investment opportunities in ICT, construction, tourism, halal food, renewable energy, health and medical services.
“One of the first joint venture projects to kick off is a medical centre and training facility to be set up in Bahrain,” said Bahrain-Philippines Joint Business Council chairman Mohammed Sajid.
Meanwhile, scores of excited Filipinos in Bahrain braved the heat and stood patiently to get a glimpse of President Duterte at the Khalifa Sports City Complex in Isa Town.
They sported T-shirts bearing photographs of their leader, car stickers, banners and posters.
The official seating capacity of the venue is 4,000.
“President Duterte was running our city, Davao, as mayor before he was elected to the top post and has a brilliant record for his work and bravery,” said Divine Padillo.
“He is our hero and we fully support his campaigns as he can make the change.
“Filipinos are very hopeful of his administration.”
The 71-year-old President later in the evening addressed the huge crowd at the stadium.
Volunteers and embassy staff were overwhelmed as the crowds started to grow and gates were closed by 5pm, an hour before the main event.