Peace talks, piracy of experts concern banana industry

PEACE and order in Mindanao and piracy of expert banana developers to other countries are the top concerns for the banana industry in the Philippines, an executive from the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said.

PBGEA president Stephen Antig told SunStar Davao that the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will positively impact the business industry in Mindanao. He said long lasting peace can further develop the island.

“Investors are afraid to expand in areas where they think that order has not really been established. That’s also a concern and that’s also something that we would like the government to really address,” said Antig.

“These businesses, when they enter a certain place, they provide employment. Once they provide employment, economy of that place will improve. On the other hand, no investment means a lot of people with no job. Poverty will be more serious and chances are more people will actually join these ‘movements’ because they have no job,” he added.

On top of the peace and order concern, “retired” expert banana growers in the Philippines are being pirated by other Southeast Asian countries that are also starting to excel in the banana industry as well like Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

With the Philippines’ 48 years of being in the banana trade industry, Antig said we are indeed steps ahead of other Southeast Asian countries in terms of expertise but he said it can be easily acquired by other nations if they pay the right price.

“If they (foreign banana companies) don’t hire people from here, they send their people to study in our universities here. But it would be easier and faster, and even more economical if they just hire our retirees with experiences. If we don’t watch out, we might wake up one morning and we are no longer the biggest exporter of bananas in Southeast Asia,” he said.
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