DA eyes banana exports to California

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing the United States, particularly California, for more banana shipments following the approval of a work plan by both governments for the export of Cavendish banana.

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Clarito Barron, DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) director, told reporters that he would meet next week with fruit and vegetable exporter Dole Philippines to discuss the conduct of the maiden shipment of some 3,000 metric tons (MT) of bananas to United States territories.

“All the documents and protocols in the commencement of exports are already signed and we are just waiting for Dole’s go-signal. In fact, they have already expressed intention to do first shipment by October,” he said.

Dole was supposed to conduct the initial shipment of Cavendish bananas to US military bases in the Pacific and the Middle East in June.

“Basically, delays in the approval of the work plan, and its registry, were the main reason why the initial export of 3,000 MT of Cavendish banana was deferred,” he said.

Barron noted that the agency is now discussing with Dole the possible follow-up shipments, saying that the company should have a detailed program of export to sustain demand from continental US.

“They said that they already have a program, a plan on the volume of banana they will bring to continental or mainland USA. Next week, during our meeting, we’ll review their proposal,” he said.

To recall, Manila has set its sights at the US market, particularly at defense commissaries, after China imposed stricter sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions on Philippine banana exports.

The Department of Agriculture had said that the US market would be bigger than the Chinese market. Aside from the US, the government is also actively engaging Japan, Korea and Middle East countries to absorb banana exports.

Barron said that the US market remains “open” to all interested companies who want to export Cavendish bananas, but stressed that they should be BPI-accredited exporters.

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.

Alcala said that they may require exporters to put infrastructure first before they will be allowed to enter the market.

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