DA to put up banana packing facilities in Davao

THE Department of Agriculture in partnership with small banana growers and exporters, mostly based in Davao region, will put up common packing facilities that comply with required export standards.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the DA in tandem with the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association (MBFEA) will initially put up two banana packing facility at barangays Kinnamon and Casig-an, both in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, worth P3.1 million (M) each. The DA chief visited the prospective sites on June 20, 2012, accompanied by MBFEA officers, led by its president Romeo Garcia, chairman, and DA officials.

Secretary Alcala said the amount will come from the President Aquino’s Social Fund which allotted P50M to construct new packing facilities and upgrade existing ones to enable small banana farmers comply with international sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS).

He said the DA through the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is currently inspecting small banana packing facilities in Davao region, and subsequently accredit those that meet required standards.

Secretary Alcala urged the members of the MBFEA to form themselves into clusters so they could be served by common or central accredited packing facility. He made the call during a consultation with small and multinational banana growers and exporters, along with Davao local government officials, led by Vice Governor Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr., in Tagum City.

During the forum, the DA chief urged the ‘big players’ — or members of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), headed by its executive director Stephen Antig — to share their technologies and good agricultural practices with the small growers and exporters, so they could be more productive and meet the stringent export standards.

He said the DA will also provide them technical and marketing assistance, and training through the BPI, Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), and High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).

However, he cautioned some of them not to resort again to ‘pole-vaulting’ or reneging on marketing contracts with multinational companies and dealing with other buyers and importers whenever export prices of banana spike or shoot up, and in the process hastily skipping or relaxing on the required SPS or export standards.

Meanwhile, he said the DA, represented by AMAS Director Leandro Gazmin, and officers of the MBFEA and PBGEA, along with trade industry officials are embarking on a trade mission to explore and clinch more export markets for Philippine bananas. They group left June 23, 2012 for the Middle East, Brussels, Netherlands and Italy.

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