Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan is optimistic on economic growth of Mindanao by saying it may still surpass other local economies in the country if the island's economic potentials are fully maximized.
"Mindanao has the capacity to surpass local economies of Luzon if the region can harness its potentials to the fullest," said Balisacan, Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in a news conference Sunday in Davao City.
He cited the case of Caraga region which was the fastest growing region with an accelerated growth rate of 9.6 percent in 2011. It surpassed two other growing economies in the country with Central Visayas having 7.9 percent and Central Luzon with 7.5 perecent growth in the same period.
Caraga region, located in the northeastern Mindanao is composed of the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and the six cities of Bayugan, Bislig, Butuan, Cabadbaran, Surigao and Tandag.
During the first Mindanao Development Forum (MDF) held in Davao City recently where Balisacan was the guest of honor, he said that among Mindanao's strong potentials rest in the agri-industry sector, particularly in the export of rubber, pineapple, banana, coffee and organic agriculture products, which command high demand in the global market.
In the same forum, Mindanao Development Authority chair Secretary Luwalhati Antonino presented the Mindanao Development Report where she said Mindanao had recorded 94% self sufficiency on staple food with rice domestic output of 66.91 percent, while other staples, which include corn and other root crops posting at 27.13 percent.
Growth rate in the export of coconut-based products was also recorded at 39.11 percent, while bananas registered a growth rate of 42.22 percent.
Other agricultural products such as pineapples and tuna marked steady increases at 55.33 percent and 3.46 percent, respectively.
Also in 2011, Mindanao's foreign trade had expanded by 69.5 percent which translated to increased export earnings by 74.48 percent. The US remains as the region's top export market cornering 33.31 percent of Mindanao's total exports, followed by China with 17.56 percent; the Netherlands 17.46 percent and Japan 17.23 percent.
Balisacan said Mindanao's resources remain awesome and must be tapped to its maximum.
"Mindanao has so much economic potential that could spur higher growth for our country and contribute immensely in the attainment of the inclusive development agenda," he said.
To achieve this, Mindanao must identify new players in the region in order to increase and spread growth more equitably.