THE VALUE of the investment commitments approved by the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority in 2015 surged to P9.7 billion from only P9.8 million a year ago due largely to a proposed 300-megawatt solar farm.

In an interview, Alfonso Basilio A. Marquez, head of corporate relations at the Zamboecozone, said the biggest investment pledge for 2015 was that of Ecoglobal Inc., a monocystalline solar power firm that had committed to invest P9.2 billion in the planned solar facility.

Zamboanga Coffee Co. is meanwhile pouring out some P420 million for a seed production center, nurseries, coffee mills, and plantations, while Phil Union Canning Co. (PUCCI), which is engaged in the manufacturing, processing, buying, selling and dealing in pasteurized crab meat, frozen crab meat and canned seafood products, is expected to invest P35.9 million.

Other approved investments were those of Seaoil Philippines; Development Bank of the Philippines; AHS Agri Aqua Ventures; Aces Technical Services Group; RPH Enterprises; Zamboanga Hemp Agro-Resources; and Ecosystem Technologies Inc.

“We are targeting 20 additional locators (at the Zamboecozone) for 2016. The agriculture sector will still be the (main) driver of growth for Zamboeocozone for the next few years,” Marquez said.

According to Marquez, the Zamboecozone offers opportunities for investors to set up their respective processing plants for Halal chicken, tea, fish, coffee, cassava, mango, and coconut water; plantations for coffee, cacao, rubber, abaca, and tomato; and production facilities for tomato paste and abaca.

Other locators that are being eyed were operators of fishponds, poultry and livestock, and piggery; companies wanting to set up warehousing and cold storage facilities; fish quality control laboratory; and business process and outsourcing (BPO), among others.

The Zamboecozone is also being eyed as a Halal hub, with the government already allocating some 100 hectares for the establishment of the halal processing zone.

“One of our missions is to bring the Halal Certifiers and establish a one-stop office inside the zone. We are also in close coordination with the Department of Science and Technology for the establishment of Halal Laboratory inside the zone. We also conducted a study visit to various Halal Parks in Malaysia,” Marquez added.  (Amy R. Remo)