Contrary to reports from business figures, the Philippine banana industry has suffered no major setbacks from the near-closure of the Chinese market earlier this year, according to Davao’s coordinator of high-value crops Melani Provido.
Speaking to Philippine newspaper the Business Mirror, Provido said banana production area was continuing to expand at 2 per cent annually.
“There are some setbacks but no major losses, although profits of exporters might have decreased,” she said.
“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 `grade` bananas. Now they would like to import those with the same banana quality which we export to Japan.”
Provido’s statements are in sharp contrast to comments this week from industry figures, however.
According to Ireneo D Dalayon, president of the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association, growers have abandoned up to 20,000ha of plantations in Davao, nearly a quarter of the region’s production, reported Business World.
Dalayon told local media Mindanao banana growers and exporters are still taking losses of PHP120m a week because of the problems with exports to China and tough trading conditions in other global markets.
He said European buyers in particular were asking for 20-30 per cent discounts from Philippine banana exporters, knowing the pressure the trade was under to move excess volumes.
But Provido stated despite the claims from growers, the government was still ‘bullish’ about the banana industry’s potential.
She explained the Philippine government had dedicated PHP50m (US$1.2m) to a range of infrastructure projects and training initiatives under a Presidential Social Fund, in addition to PHP100m (US$2.4m) the Department of Agriculture recently announced it would put towards packhouse developments for 14 banana cooperatives.
“We are establishing these packing houses for the small farmers because they are the ones who cannot cope with the high-export quality,” Provido told the Business Mirror.
“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 said the government was confident the country could recover any ground lost from the trade dispute with China.