By Christine Cudis
MANILA — A business group is optimistic that newly-appointed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol can make the agency more relevant given his connections as former Agriculture Secretary.
In an interview, Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen Antig said he is hopeful that Piñol’s connections will “make a difference” in MinDA.
“I have not seen a concrete contribution of the MinDa to Mindanao. Maybe I am not privy to their accomplishments,” he said.
Created in 1992, MinDA was eyed as the primary agency to promote and coordinate the active participation of all sectors to affect Mindanao’s socio-economic development.
Piñol, a farmer and former governor of North Cotabato, has built connections with buyers at home and overseas deemed vital factors in his pursuit to further elevate the financial state of farmers in the country’s most challenged island-region through his new role as MinDA chairman.
In an interview aired via Philippine Air Force (PAF) Virtual TV last week, Pinol bared there are foreign aids that will help meet the goals of MinDA.
“On September 26, we will meet with the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, I texted him because there is a market for rice there. They do not have it, they need it, we ship it to them,” he said during PAF’s Usapang Pangkapayapaan, Usapang Pangkaunlaran (UP, UP).
Piñol also noted Turkey has vowed to extend assistance to farmers and agriculturists, while New Zealand has vouched for assistance in dairy production.
“The Israeli government is offering a P44-million loan to provide potable water to remote and off the grid barangays,” the MinDA chief said.
The new MinDa chief also bared plans to replicate two of his provincial projects that proved successful in his time as governor.
These are the “plant now, pay later” program where local government units allow farmers to loan for their capital so they can plant even with insufficient finances; and a fruit festival event that aims to directly introduce farmers to buyers, thus eliminating middlemen who usually gets the high profit in the industry.
Meanwhile, business consultant and analyst, Lorenzo David Jalotjot, said he is looking forward to hearing the activities in the newly-formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Secretary Manny has already butted heads with national economic managers, case in point, rice tarrification. It would be interesting to see how his leadership plans for BARMM development. This I feel he can add-value given background as local governor,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has bared that Piñol would be the perfect “point man” to help develop the BARMM given his experience as a farmer and former North Cotabato governor. (PNA)