|Brief Introduction to North Cotabato Province|
Cotabato, formerly North Cotabato, is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao. It’s subdivided into 17 municipalities and 1 city, the provincial capital is Kidapawan City and borders Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon to the north, Davao del Sur and Davao City, Sultan Kudarat to the south, and Maguindanao to the west.
The province has a population of 958,643 and the area is 6,565.9 km²,that is 146/km² density.
Cotabato is considered as Mindanao’s food basket. It is a major producer of cereals, tropical fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, coconut, coffee, freshwater fish and livestock.
It is also one of the country’s leading producers of raw and semi-processed rubber, with markets in Asia and Europe, and industrial trees.
Over the last nine years, Cotabato has graduated from being a basket case to one of the Philippines most vibrant economies.
In 1998, Cotabato was listed as the 5th poorest province in the country. Early in 2006, the National Statistics Coordination Board ranked it 39th among the countries more progressive provinces based on the results of its most recent survey on poverty incidence.
The province, since 2004, has become Region XII’s favorite investment area.
The province registered a total of P397.49 million worth of investments in 2004, ranking second (2nd) only to General Santos City. This meant a 113% leap in investments, the biggest in the region as of February 2005 according to DTI-12.
The Cotabato Province Investment Promotion Center (CPIPC) has recorded total investments made in the province from 2000 to 2004 at P901 million.
Leading investments is the continuously expanding banana industry with DOLE-Stanfilco standing as the biggest player, having a total investment of P200 Million. Lapanday Global Fruits in Dallag, Arakan has a P50 million investment, while new player AJMR promises to put in P3 billion.
This influx of investments has consequently opened more job opportunities for our workers in the province. Dole-Stanfilco opened 6,346 jobs for residents of Makilala, Magpet, and Kidapawan City, while Lapanday has provided employment to 167 local residents. Some 3,000 jobs will meanwhile be generated by AJMR’s operation.
New jobs generated by these investments from 200 to 2004 reached 68,595 new, and making Cotabato the leading province in job generation in the region, according to DOLE-12.
These developments have also ushered in added benefits- improvement of road networks, conversion of grasslands into productive areas, increase of micro-business establishments in the investment areas thus improving the quality of life of residents, and increased real property tax collection. It has also impacted on the age-long insurgency problem in areas like Makilala and Arakan, where the availability of a more stable source of income and better living conditions have somehow weakened the influence of Communist guerillas.
Much of this phenomenon could be credited to the rediscovery of the New Cotabato by both local and foreign investors. While the province has had our share of bad publicity due to the wars in the past years, Cotabato is slowly making a mark as a province that can offer a positive investment climate and a sound business opportunity to those who choose to put their money here.