By James Konstantin Galvez Reporter
After several months of delay, Manila can now commence the export of Cavendish bananas to United States military bases in the Pacific following the approval by both governments, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday.
In an interview, Clarito Barron, DA-Bureau of Plant Industry director, said that he has approved the work plan signed by the US government that would allow the export of some 3,000 metric tons of bananas to its military bases, as well as troops stationed in the Middle East.
“The initial export will be 3,000 metric tons, which will be shipped by June,” he added.
Fruit and vegetable exporter Dole Philippines will have the first access to the US market with a maiden shipment. Barron noted that the agency is still discussing with the US government for a possible follow-up shipment, adding that it would depend on authorized importers whether they would provide additional orders of Philippine Cavendish bananas.
Manila has set its sights at the US market, particularly at defense commissaries, after China imposed stricter sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions on Philippine banana exports.
The agriculture department had said that the US market would be bigger than the Chinese market. Besides the US, the government is also engaging Japan, Korea and Middle East countries to absorb banana exports. Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala urged local banana grower and exporters, who wish tap the United States market, to invest in ripening warehouses in the mainland.
“Banana exportation does not end with shipment. After shipment, it has to be placed in a ripening room in a controlled temperature. If you do not have a ripening room, it would be useless to export [to the US],” he said.
Alcala added that the DA may require exporters to put infrastructure first before they will be allowed to enter the US market.