JPEPA bad for Davao’s banana growers — Ibon

Aug. 15, 2007

MANILA — Exports of Philippine-grown bananas and pineapples, most of them from the Davao region and other parts of Mindanao, may increase with the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), but it will benefit agribusiness transnational corporations and not Filipino growers, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

Corporate agri-business corporations and big landed clans will corner any benefits from JPEPA since they (and their big domestic corporate growers), account for virtually all banana and pineapple exports from the Philippines.

U.S.-based Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita/Unifrutti jointly account for almost three-fourths of total Philippine banana exports and corner the bulk of exports to Japan. These three firms also corral over two-thirds of world banana exports. Dole and Del Monte are also the main players in the domestic pineapple industry and, along with Chiquita, are the biggest agri-business corporations in the global industry.

But even if tariffs on Philippine pineapples and bananas will be reduced on a staggered basis under JPEPA, food exports are actually a small and even diminishing share of total Philippine exports to Japan, accounting for only 7.4% of total exports from 2001 and 2006.

Moreover, farmers and farm workers are unlikely to benefit from increased exports of agricultural products. Most small farms are not in a position to gain access to the Japanese market given Japans strict aesthetic, sanitary and other quality standards.

The transport, storage and marketing infrastructure needed to bring the fruits to Japanese consumers in a fresh state is also a hindrance.

An increase in exports might even result in increased rural poverty, as small pineapple and banana farmers are forced to enter into contract growing arrangements with agri-business firms. Under such oppressive arrangements, the farmers shoulder all the risk in cultivation, are forced to buy over-priced inputs, face rigid or even arbitrary quality controls, and are paid unfairly depressed prices for their produce.

comments powered by Disqus