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MINDANAO ECOZONES Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto opens the Mindanao Ecozone Summit held from February 02-03, 2017 at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.Alonto underscores ecozone development as an imperative measure that will bolster inclusive socioeconomic growth in the region. The Summit is co-organized by MinDA and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

 

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – More than 200 key representatives from the government, private sector, and other institutions convened here on Thursday to finalize integral steps necessary in accelerating regional economic zone development initiatives in Mindanao.

Dubbed as the “Mindanao Ecozone Summit,” the two-day event, held at the Grand Regal Hotel will highlight the collaboration between the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) through the signing of a memorandum of agreement that will encourage concerned agencies to participate in the promotion and development of ecozones within the island-region.

“MinDA sees ecozone development as an imperative measure that will bolster inclusive socioeconomic growth in the region,” said MinDA Chairman Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto.

He explained that MinDA and PEZA are looking at a holistic approach in ecozone development in which Mindanao’s agriculture and its component sectors such as fisheries and aquaculture will play key roles in Mindanao’s overall development.

“If I am to envision the island-region’s development in the next 10 to 20 years, I see agriculture cooperatives and agri-based industries as the most prominent drivers of Mindanao’s economy,” the Secretary said.

He added that it couldn’t be overstated that agri-based cooperatives have the capacity to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and their families.

“Agriculture cooperatives after all are the pillars of development and food security,” he said.

One of the potential areas targeted for ecozone development is Tawi-Tawi with its high potential for agriculture and aquaculture development, particularly seaweed.

With the influx of agri-based ecozones, Secretary Alonto hopes that this will strike a “balance between large plantation and smallholder farming” wherein farmers can fully reap the long-term benefits of such initiatives.

As of April 2016, there are 81 identified economic zones in the island-region covering various sectors such as agro-industry, manufacturing, tourism, and Information Technology, among others.

MinDA is also looking into the establishment of key infrastructure and connectivity networks as they play a vital role in ensuring the seamless flow of economic activities in the proposed ecozones.

Through the Mindanao Development Corridors, a spatial approach to development, MinDA will work with concerned agencies in making sure that all interregional roads, gateway ports and airports, as well as other logistic facilities are in place.

Some of the early gains of this strategy include the scheduled launching of the Davao-Gensan-Bitung shipping route, which will expedite travel time for goods between Indonesia and the Philippines from five weeks to three days.

“We are counting on this new route to entice more locators in our Economic Zones, especially from our neighbors in the Brunei Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area and the larger ASEAN market,” Secretary Alonto added.

The program is also looking into the development of the Mindanao Railway Project, a trans-regional, high-speed railway system linking all key cities in the island-region. The project was recently identified by the national government as one of the top priority projects for Mindanao. #

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