Mindanao: the land of promise and food basket of the Philippines


With an area of 133, 656 square kilometers, Mindanao is the second largest and the southernmost island of the Philippines. The island is covered by six administrative regions, 26 provinces, 27 cities, 425 municipalities, and 10,065 barangays. As of 2010, the number of inhabitants in Mindanao is 21, 968, 174. The largest settlement and the most populous city in Mindanao is Davao City, which comprises 1, 632, 991 inhabitants. As of the 2015 census, the second most populous city is Zamboanga City, third is Cagayan de Oro City, and followed by General Santos City.

Mindanao is also known as the Land of Promise because of its lush forests and vegetation, natural resources, and rich biodiversity. The six regions in Mindanao are Region IX, Region X, Region XI, Region XII, Region XIII, and ARMM. These regions are abundant in agricultural, mineral, and marine resources.

Buthering section in Zamboanga Universal Fishing Corporation  Image source: Zamboanga.net

The economy of Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) generates from agricultural and fishery productions. Palay is the major temporary crop and coconut is the dominant permanent crop in the region. Region IX has showed a large increase in the fishery production. Some of the marine products that are common in this region include tuna, mackerel, shrimps, herring sardines, and lobsters. The region prospers in the industries of processed fish products, rubber, seaweeds, bottled sardines, ceramics, and shellcrafts. Zamboanga Peninsula is one of the top rubber producers in the country and noted for pioneering the production of bottled sardines.

Del Monte’s Pineapple farm in Bukidnon. Image source: Adventurous Feet

Region X (Northern Mindanao) has ample agricultural resources and is the largest regional economy in Mindanao. The region is self-sufficient in crops and agricultural products. Coconut-based products and fresh fruits remain as the region’s major exports. In 2013, Northern Mindanao was one of the top pineapple producers in the country along with SOCCSKARGEN. The top products of this region are pineapple, coconut oil, high value crops, and fiber-based products. The region is envisioned to become a leading industrial and trade center.

A worker in a Banana plantation in the Davao Region. Image source: Business World 

Region XI (Davao Region) is the fruit basket of the Philippines. The main economic activity of the region is predominantly agricultural-based. Banana is the primary agricultural commodity produced in numerous banana plantations in the region. Other products include pineapple, sugarcane, durian, rice, corn, and coconut. Industrial products include processed fruits, processed food products, construction materials, and furniture. Fishery is one of the alternative sources of income. Five of the major fishing grounds in the Philippines are also located in this region. On the other hand, the region is famous for its cut flower industry and the vast flower farms that grow exotic orchids. The region has a fertile extensive area and a tropical climate that is highly suitable for growing wide varieties of plants.

Tuna in General Santos Fish Port. Image source: Journeying James

Region XII (SOCCSKARGEN) is situated in the central and southwestern part of Mindanao. SOCCSKARGEN is an acronym that stands for the region’s four provinces and one of its cities: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City. The main economic activity of this region is fishing because of its rich fishing grounds. General Santos City is famous for its tuna production and known as the tuna capital of the Philippines. Steel, cement, rubber, and palm oil are some of the important products of this region. Palay, corn, pineapple, coconut and other major crops are the region’s main agricultural products.

Logs ready for production in Caraga Region. Image Source: Interaksyon

Region XIII (Caraga), officially known as Caraga Administrative Region, is occupying the northeastern section of the Mindanao island. The region is well-known for its wood-based economy and rich mineral deposits with metric tons of metallic and non-metallic reserves. Caraga’s long shoreline and inland waters hold enormous fisheries and aquatic products such as prawns, shrimps, milkfish, crabs, and tilapia. The region has corporate plantations and has a great capacity for producing palm oil, citronella oil, coffee, and timber trees. Major agricultural products of this region are banana, corn, palay, calamansi, mango, and coconut.

A seaweed farmer harvests seaweed in Tawi-Tawi. Image Source: The Coral Triangle

ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) is an autonomous region located in the southern part of the Philippines. The top products in this region are cassava, corn, palay, seaweeds, and coconut. In 2013, ARMM ranked 1st in the production of cassava and seaweed. Agricultural activities like planting palay and corn are common in ARMM but others are also involved in bee culture and honeybee production, silkworm production, pearl culture, and mushroom culture. Mushroom culture has attracted a huge number of agricultural operators and it is considered as the most common activity in the region. Chicken raising has also remained as the primary poultry activity in the region while raising of ducks ranked second.

Mindanao continues to show resilience in its agricultural performance despite the occurrence of natural calamities that constantly affect the food and crop production. It provides substantial contribution to the country’s food security; thus, Mindanao is considered as the agricultural basin of the Philippines. Mindanao is also fortunate to have vast marine resources. The fisheries industry consitutes marine fisheries, inland fisheries, and aquaculture. The major industries in Mindanao are significant contributors to the economic development and export performance of the country.

Words by Patricia Mabalos




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