THE banana industry of the country continues to aspire for expansion as there is currently a looming possibility of banana export market to Australia, said Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) official.
For more than two decades now, the Philippines had stopped exporting to Australia due to some risk-reduction measures such as animal health and plant regulation measures that the Australian government had put up.
However, PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig became hopeful after coming across a news article where Australian ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely said they are willing to assist banana exporters in the Philippines to comply with the export measures of Australia.
"We're also looking forward to the opening of the Australian market for our bananas. Because the Australian ambassador to the Philippines said on an article that they're just waiting for Philippine producers to contact them and discuss how we can export bananas to Australia. We just hope that they are serious about it. In fact, I'm planning to write to Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol and request the Department of Agriculture to arrange a meeting between the Philippine banana producers and the Australian government," said Antig during the sidelines of the Department of Trade and Industry's Civil Society Organizations and Stockholder's Meeting held last Tuesday, February 20, at Seda Hotel.
The news article Antig meant was that of Jasper Y. Arcalas of Business Mirror published on February 10. In the article, Gorely said no Philippine banana exporter had met with Canberra to express interest in exporting bananas to Australia.
"My view is that Philippine banana producers are not interested in the Australian market. I repeatedly say, if a Philippine company wants to export to Australia, come and tell me and we will work with them," Gorely said in the article adding that the Philippines is the only country in the world allowed banana export to Australia only after they have passed through the specific risk-reduction measures.
Antig said they understood this stand of the ambassador. "That's protectionism because they also have their own banana industry and we know that the production there is very high. If they allow our bananas to enter, chances are they might be overlapped by our bananas because our selling price is lower," said Antig.
He added he would want to take these types of news articles with a grain of truth and would push through with the meeting with Piñol in order to finalize meetings with the Australian government.
"But they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so until we will be able to export bananas to Australia, it's just a piece of paper," said Antig.