Listed AgriNurture Inc. (ANI), the agribusiness firm chaired by businessman Antonio Tiu, has secured a partnership with Unified Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribe (UBTT) to plant rice and corn in up to 38,000 hectares of ancestral lands in Davao.
ANI and UBTT signed the partnership agreement with officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as witness.
The agreement is for a period of 25 years, renewable for the same period upon mutual agreement of the parties.
Under the deal, ANI will utilize the unused portions of the ancestral land of UBTT, invest in the development, operation and management of a rice and corn plantation and integrated corn processing facility to produce its BigMa or Bigas-Mais product.
In exchange for the rights granted to ANI over their ancestral lands, UBTT will receive annual royalty fees based on actual utilized land and annual net profit share from the project.
“The [BigMa] project aims to provide an alternative staple for the country, reduce the country’s dependence on rice imports, create more jobs for Filipinos and reduce the country’s carbon footprint,” Tiu said.
At least 10,000 new jobs are expected to be created under this venture.
ANI’s “BigMa” is a unique, low-glycemic rice-corn blend. It is touted as a healthier option for Filipino consumers.
Tiu added that apart from the agricultural partnership, ANI will develop programs on health, skills development and alternative livelihood for the communities.
Together with UBTT, various government agencies and foundations, ANI will also plant trees in more than 2,000 hectares of land.
ANI is one of the Philippines’ major exporters of fruits to the world and pioneer of coconut water and plant based products.
It recently launched its plant based coconut ice cream and meat substitutes under Big Chill.