EU BAEP CRESCENT facilitates the signing of the MOU between KENRAM and 11 ARBO Cooperatives in Basilan

The EU BAEP CRESCENT project is achieving its goal of “Creating Responsible Sustainable Competitive ENTerprises (CRESCENT)” with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between KENRAM Palmoil Industries Inc (KPII) and the 11 Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations (ARBO)/ Cooperatives in Basilan on 20 June 2024 at the KENRAM grounds at Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. The signing of the MOU signals the start of the collaboration with the cooperatives particularly with the evaluation of the plantation areas, ownership, technical support needs and the determination of investment requirements. After due diligence work, the MOU will lead to the signing of 11 Memorandums of Agreement providing the details of the business partnerships.


The 11 Basilan ARBO Cooperatives who signed the MOU include:

1. Mahatallang Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries MPC (MARBEMPCO)

2. Alih Ismael Muhtamad Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries MPC (AIMARBEMPCO)

3. Manggal Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Coop (MARBEDCO)

4. Sampinit Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Devt Coop (SARBIDC)

5. Tairan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Agricultural MPC  (TARBAMC)

6. Lamitan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (LARBECO)

7. Cabato Tahajid Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Devt Coop (CATARBEDECO)

8. Sta Clara Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Devt Coop (SCARBIDC)

9. Baiwas Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries MPC ( BARBEMPCO)

10. Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Devt Coop (TARBIDC)

11. Tipo-Tipo Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Agricultural Devt Coop (TARBADECO)


Mr. Al Montecillo, President of KPII expressed excitement over the collaboration as he emphasized that the first palm oil plantations in the Philippines were first located in Basilan and KPII is happy to revive the industry in the province. He is also optimistic that responsible, sustainable and competitive business partnerships can be developed with the 11 Basilan cooperatives given the introduction and application of KPII’s best practices in the operations. The 11 cooperatives are likewise optimistic about the deal and look forward to ironing out the details of the partnerships.


The successful signing of the MOU came about as a result of the May 2024 exploratory mission to Basilan Province by a team guided by Mr. Tony Peralta and led by Mr. Jun Sanson of the EU BAEP CRESCENT Project, Engr. Rose Anne Nabor of KPII, Marlon Saloma from the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), and Basilan-based key officials from the Ministry of Agriculture Fishery and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR).  The overwhelming positive response from the ARBOs led to a collective decision to enter into MOUs with KPII. On the one hand, KPII will have full access to the vast land holdings of these cooperatives to start the Phase 1 of the palm oil expansion project covering an initial area of 5000 hectares. On the other hand, the cooperatives will have access to the best practices and financial support of KENRAM.


As a backgrounder, the Province of Basilan was formerly the home to several foreign companies that have established huge agricultural plantations of rubber, coffee, cacao, palm oil, coconut and other high-value commercial crops. The Sime Darby (Philippines), Menzi Agricultural Company, UP Landgrant, and BF Goodrich Company among others, have had profitable operations that lasted for more than three (3) decades and the aforesaid companies had immensely provided employment and livelihood opportunities not only for the natives of Basilan but also for other ethnic groups who eventually migrated to the island province for good.


However, during the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), all of the agricultural plantations managed by multi-national companies, including those owned by local businessmen were included in the so-called “justice program” and the full coverage of the CARP prompted these companies to cease their operation and leave the Province of Basilan permanently.


Although the CARP Law was meant to allow the landless tillers or farmers to own a parcel of land and be able to personally or collectively manage their farming ventures, it was disheartening to note that the majority of the ARBOs were not able to successfully manage the operation of their plantations and most of them became heavily in debted to various creditors up to this time.


Apart from the mismanagement of the operation of the plantations, it can be recalled that in the year 2007, the Province of Basilan suffered from the infestations of the “cocolisap”. That massive infestation, which the government failed to address, has eventually toppled at least 60% of the coconut industry in the entire Province which triggered the cutting of those severely affected coconut trees, including those owned by the agrarian reform beneficiary organizations, that made wide tracts of the coconut areas in the Province now vacant.


Likewise, the “leaf disease” affected the production of rubber cup lumps  among the rubber farms in Basilan has the more contributed to the deterioration of plantation operations as the ARBOs, while facing depressed raw rubber prices in the market, do not have the financial muscle to buy expensive chemicals to control the decease.  


The BAEP CRESCENT Project team will continue to shepherd KPII and the 11 ARBO Cooperatives, including individual landowners with wide tracts of land in Basilan who would enter into partnerships with KPII in the next expansion phases.


Article prepared by Emiterio Sanson, Agri-Fisheries Enterprise Development Expert of the EU BAEP CRESCENT Project.

Related Posts

Explore a world of agribusiness knowledge, trends, and success stories through our AgriInsights Blog. Stay informed, inspired, and ahead in the ever-evolving agricultural landscape.