THE banana industry sector lamented the absence of response to its “wish list” submitted to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The wish list includes addressing peace and order, aerial spraying, pole vaulting, tariff concerns, the maximum residue limit (MRL) standards, and the concerns with the China market.
Pilipino Banana Growers and Exports Association (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen Antig said the wish list was submitted as early as July to DA.
He said the group is still waiting to receive the necessary responses on the “wish list” that they presented.
In a discussion with Antig during last Tuesday’s Davao Business Forum at DermPath, SM City Davao, it was learned that most of the issues on the list have not yet been given a response, although some of their concerns about the foreign market have been addressed.
“No concrete steps have been taken as yet, and we expect that government will take appropriate action on these concerns,” he said.
Antig also said that the banana sector saw reductions in exports of bananas for the first six months of this year.
He said the sector lost 13 percent or about 6 million boxes due to the impact of El Niño.
He said they expect the drop to continue towards the end of the year, and that the total could hit about 30 percent of the annual production.
According to Antig, the first six months in 2016 accounted for 558,058 metric tons, a drop compared with the 2015 figure of the same period of about 661,830 metric tons.
“We have recovered from [Typhoon] Pablo, but not completely as some banana plantations in Compostela Valley Province were already converted to producing other crops,” he said.
If Mindanao will be hit again by a typhoon in 2017 a lot of people will be affected, Antig said.
As to the peace and order concerns, Antig cited the banana plantation in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur where approximately 1,500 families were directly affected, plus another 1,500 families indirectly hit because the supply chain has been affected after the banana firm closed down operations.
The plantation operated by DOLE Philippines-Stanfilco shut down two months ago due to the burning of equipment and threats inflicted by rebel groups on their operation.
Antig reported that from January to July 2016 there were already nine incidents of burning of container vans, equipment, and facilities in the area.
On aerial spraying, Antig said they already asked Environment Secretary Gina Lopez of Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a meeting.
He said they are willing to sit down with the Secretary and discuss the issue, since plantation owners follow good agricultural practices, and whatever misconceptions on this can be threshed out.
On the quarantine issue, Antig said the head of the Bureau of Plant Industry and his team will be in Davao City this month to find out the practices adopted by the stakeholders concerning banana production.
He also said a quarantine team from China will be coming to the Philippines to check on the processing of the fruits.