The recent trade issues involving China and Iran, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said, serve as a wake-up call that the industry needs to open to other markets abroad.
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Almost 76 percent of all banana exports from the Philippines last year landed to limited markets abroad, the biggest share was in China.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala made the pronouncement through a statement read by Constancio Maghanoy, Jr., DA Region XI Director during the opening of the 2012 Mindanao Banana Congress on Wednesday at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang Premier.
Hundreds of banana growers, farmers, government officials, cooperatives and entrepreneurs from Mindanao and other parts of the country flocked the gathering that carried the theme “facing global challenges, maximizing opportunities.”
Alcala, in a statement, said banana farming is one of the most important and promising sectors in the country’s agriculture as it contributes significantly to the national economy as an export revenue earner.
The recent trade issues involving China and Iran, Alcala said, serve as a wake-up call that the industry needs to open to other markets abroad.
In the past years fresh Philippine bananas landed only to limited markets with countries like Japan, China, Iran and South Korea. Japan has been the biggest market for the industry but it was surpassed by China in 2011.
Alcala assured that his department and other line agencies are continuously exploring new markets for Philippine bananas.
This year, the country opened markets with countries like the Italy, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Mongolia and Austria. In early 2013, it will open markets in the United States.
Banana industry in the country was badly hit early this year when China tightened its quality control and practically stopped some shipment of said products into their market when the sea spat on the Scarborough Shoal erupted.
Alcala assured the DA will continue to extend the much-needed technical marketing and logistics support to the banana industry especially to small farmers and growers.
“The congress is an opportune time to discuss the current global challenges being faced by banana growers,” said Ferdinand Marañon, President of the Philippine Exporters Confederation in Region XI.
The two-day congress, he said, must come up with practical and doable solutions to address the issues and concerns that affect the banana industry, particularly the farmers and exporters in Mindanao.
“The country’s banana industry mostly depend its survival on the export market,” said Geonathan Barro, the advocacy officer for Mindanao of Masipag (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura).
He pointed out, it is high time the DA re-orients its cash-crop, mono-cropping and export-oriented framework and instead give more focus on local food security through organic agriculture.
“Walay padulngan ang nasud nga export-oriented (Nothing will happen to an export-oriented country),” told davaotoday.com.
Barro’s concern was also shared by Pedro Arnado of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao Region.
Arnado said the country’s plans for banana industry are anchored on the demands of foreign countries. The banana industry in Mindanao, he added, is controlled by foreign-owned multi-national corporations (MNCs).
The KMP chair also cited the reports of their leaders in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley provinces who are concerned over the massive expansion of the areas of MNCs engaged in banana production.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in a message read by the city’s Investment Promotion Officer Jason Magnaye, said that the congress is an opportune time as growers and exporters face global challenges and at the same time maximize opportunities for locally-grown bananas in Mindanao.
She hoped that the gathering will address vital issues affecting the industry and pave the way for the formulation of a banana industry roadmap. She also expected that the participants of the congress will be able to pass a measure for the industry to contribute to hunger and malnutrition eradication programs of the government. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)