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20,000-ha Aurora plateau awaits investors

[ ] June 8, 2011

Aurora province has a treasure hidden on the Sierra Madre.

Rising 2,000 feet above sea level is a 20,000-hectare area suitable for large-scale cultivation of cash crops like cassava and pineapples.

Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio, managing head of the Board of Investments (BOI), said the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport (APECO) is now looking for partners in developing the idle area.

Panlilio said the government can tap food giants Del Monte and Dole for planting hybrid varieties of pineapple that the former grows in the highlands of Bukidnon and the latter in Cotabato.

Panlilio’ efforts to convert idle lands into productive use started with a plan to plant sugarcane in agrarian reform properties in Central Luzon abandoned by owners.

Panlilio said China’s largest beverage firm Wahaha Group, which initially expressed interest in the project, has for now shelved the plan to give way to a new management in the company.

"The company is in transition so for now we are looking for other projects," Panlilio said.

APECO is strategically located in Casiguran, surrounded by the provinces of Isabela, Quirino, and Nueva Ecija. It is an ideal entry point for commerce in the northeastern quadrangle of Luzon.

The ecozone lies in bay area naturally protected by the Sierra Madre and the 12,000-hectare San Ildefonso peninsula.

Several locators have shown interest in APECO, targeting agro-industrial/aquaculture, domestic air transport, eco-tourism, logistics, cargo services, property development and real estate, port management, renewable energy, urban planning and wood processing.

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