(From Sunstar September 15, 2019 by Ace June Rell S. Perez)

AROUND US$10 billion economic activity will be generated in Mindanao for the next 10 years following the launch of Hijo Central – a smart and sustainable master development project of Hijo Resources Corporation (HRC) in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

HRC vice chair and chief executive officer Rosanna Tuason-Fores told reporters in a press conference after the launching of Hijo Central on Sunday, September 15 that this huge economic potential will be brought about by the project’s activities on agribusiness, port and logistics, property development, leisure and tourism, and renewable energy.

“It will enhance development around Tagum City, in Davao Region and beyond. We are establishing a smart city, walkable and hub for food technology, biotechnology, and agritech. Smart City is not just about technology, it is about creating an ecosystem of smart people, smart place, and smart planet,” Tuason-Fores said.

The Hijo Central is a 132-hectare development project within a 1,054 hectares Hijo plantation property. It will be developed in four phases.

“As to what we are going to do during the first phase, nothing is final yet. We still have to discuss,” said Dr. Sujata S. Govada, CEO and managing director of Urban Design Planning International, the masterplan partner of HRC for this big ticket project.

However, Tuason-Fores said land development of the project has already started.

Hijo Central also envisions in establishing a digital agricultural market place, a disruptive platform that connects farmers to global customers; and a food innovation hub.

“In order for us to achieve this innovation hub, we need to partner with a university and I hope that we can officially bring one top international agriculture school to locate here,” she said.

HRC President and COO Ramon Segismundo, in his separate speech, also said that they hope, through this project, they can build and start a Davao del Norte Agricultural Valley, the agri version of Silicon Valley.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, for his part said, Hijo Central’s strategy and masterplan is a welcome development emphasizing the way to develop further the Philippine’s agriculture through Agro industrialization and modernization.

Tuason-Fores also said they are currently looking for potential business partners, locators, even sustainable boutique investors to locate in Hijo Central.

The developers are also striking deals with sustainable partners to secure quality and reasonable power, telecommunications, and water services.

Meanwhile, Tuason-Fores underscored that though this is a huge development project, the environmental aspect of the project will not be compromised.

“We will strictly have a 49% non-saleable green space in Hijo Central,” she shared.

Segismundo also added that major part of the development will be a walking, no vehicle zone. The rivers and forest within the property will also be protected.

The HRC site, where Hijo Central is located, is classified as Planned Unit Development Zone by the City Government of Tagum.