By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 21, 2016 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - State-owned Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) is set to accelerate economic development in the countryside by turning idle military camps into agri-industrial parks.
BCDA has so far identified five underutilized Armed Forces camps that cover some 76,811 hectares of land in total.
“Using BCDA as a catalyst for economic development, we are also exploring the opportunity of developing other military camps across the country to provide millions of jobs. And we’re looking at the possibility of transforming idle camps to agri-industrial centers to ensure food security and also connect our farmers to the international market. These are camps in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said.
“Our vision here is to create economic growth in different regions using our infrastructure, our land, and our capacity to develop the land. So this is not the usual development, this will be more of an agri-industrial development. It will also create investments in agriculture, technology and research,” he added.
The five idle AFP camps identified by BCDA for possible joint development include the 34,422-hectare Fort Ramon Magsaysay military reservation in Nueva Ecija, the 42,264-hectare Camp Kibaritan military reservation in Bukidnon, a 64.90-hectare property in Mactan, Cebu, and two lots in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig with sizes of 29.71 hectares and 29.53 hectares, respectively.
Of these five idle camps, Casanova said, BCDA is initially looking at three outside Metro Manila for potential immediate development.
“These are very, very huge chunks of land which are currently underutilized which we believe could be catalysts of growth in the regions where they are located,” he said.
“Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon, for example, is a very productive land in Mindanao and we could create the Mindanao economy to the value chain. Without having to sell it, we could actually generate and make it more productive and create thousands of jobs to people living there, even the Lumads or even the local community,” Casanova added.
According to Casanova, development of more agri-industrial parks would provide a boost to the country’s volatile agriculture sector.
“What we need to do for our agriculture is to provide investments and technology so that the yield of our farmers will be better and the quality of the products produced would be globally competitive in terms of quality and freshness,” he said.
BCDA, in a briefing last week, said it plans to dispose the 25.8-hectare Navy Village along Lawton Avenue in Fort Bonifacio this year, subject to the approval of the next administration.