The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) is planning to use around 12 million hectares of agricultural lands and the country’s fishing grounds for special economic zones on agriculture and aquamarine to spur domestic food production.
Peza Director General Charito B. Plaza said food produced by the special ecozones will not only boost domestic food supply but will also help prop up the country’s export receipts.
Plaza noted that despite the years of shooting for sufficiency, the country continues to import food and remains dependent on other countries to beef up its domestic supply despite having millions of hectares of idle lands.
She said these idle lands “must be our focus on how to utilize responsibly our very fertile lands and rich natural resources as the country aims to push for a self-reliant, self-sustaining and resource-generating economy.”
“In planning for our country and our people’s needs, we must first assess how we can properly utilize both our human and natural resources, the Philippines’s biggest advantages, to attain total development.”
Plaza added that this can be done through the creation of different types of economic zones that will attract targeted, specialized, strategic and big-ticket investments and spur countryside development.
Last month during Peza’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Peza chief said in a statement that ecozones are drivers of economic growth outside the National Capital Region (NCR).
During the same event, Plaza also said Peza will recommend to the incoming administration incentives for strategic and big-ticket industries that will be located in the countryside to attract investors.
Under the MOU, the DENR and Peza have agreed that when compared with other regions, Region 13 or the Caraga Administrative Region has the greatest potential to contribute to economic development being the timber and mining capital of the country.
“We aim to restore back the once major industry of wood and put order in the utilization of the raw minerals processed into many other products in Caraga, which has the biggest timberland and mining lands,” Plaza said.
Peza and DENR have identified seven lands in Caraga that are viable for ecozone development. Four of the proposed special economic zones will be located in Agusan del Norte, while there’s one proposed for Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.
Currently, there are 23 operating agro-industrial ecozones in Peza of which 13 are in Mindanao.