DA remains bullish on banana industry

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) believes the banana industry remains a leading export income-earner for farmers.

Melani Provido, coordinator of high value crops in Davao Region said there are no major losses in the banana industry and that based on 2011 data there is a steady growth of 7% in production, of which there is a 1.8% growth on the Cavendish (variety).

She added that in terms of areas the banana is continuously expanding by 2 percent.

“There are some setbacks but no major losses. Although, profits of exporters might have decreased,” she said over a phone interview.

“China, which is just one of the banana-importing countries, has never closed its market for the Philippines but it has upgraded its quality standards. In the previous years we deliver the B and C (classification of) banana. Now they would like to import those with same banana quality which we export to Japan,” Provido said.

Provido said that in response to the higher standards set in the market in recent past, DA frontloaded funds and the necessary infrastructure to meet the export market.

“Over and above the funds earmarked by DA, we also have the P50 million Presidential Social Fund to assist us in our various infrastructure projects and technology training to meet the standards of the export market,” she said.

In a recent press briefing, Provido said that DA has already allotted P100 million for the packing houses for 14 cooperatives in the region.

One of these cooperatives is the indigenous farmers in Sibulan that are exporting ‘bongolan’ type of bananas to Japan.

“We are establishing this packing houses for the small farmers because they are the ones who cannot cope up with the high export quality,” Provido explained.

“Aside from infrastructure, we are also providing technical assistance such as observance of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to strengthen the quality control of banana produce,” she added.

The Philippine bananas in the export market include the Cavendish type for the fresh market and the Saba/Carbada for the chip-making and staple.

DA is also looking at other local alternative markets to cope up with some industry setbacks. One is the agreement with the Department of Education  (DepED) for the supply of banana in the school’s feeding program which is expected to require 240 million boxes of bananas in a year.

Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics’ showed that in 2011 Davao region (XI) attained the highest production with 3,855 thousand MT followed by Northern Mindanao (X) with 1,726 thousand and SOCCSKSARGEN (XII) with 1,095 thousand MT.

“After the vigorous implementation of infrastructures, the GAP training, and the continual search for other potential export markets, we are confident that we will regain from the setbacks we have had,” Provido said.

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