THE banana industry is in need of the government’s help and intervention in addressing the issues concerning the industry, said an executive from the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport).

Philexport executive director Marizon Loreto, during the Habi at Kape weekly press conference at Abreeza Ayala Malls on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, said the peace and order situation, pest management, and intense market competition remain to be the top concerns of banana players in Mindanao.

“The problem of insurgency will somehow greatly affect the investments or the interests of the investors to really put in their money where it is needed most. If this particular issue will not really be properly addressed, then I guess we will have to see a situation where we fear that some of our investors will just go down and shut down and go back to where they come from,” said Loreto.

Loreto said issues being faced by the banana industry will be tackled during the 2017 Banana Congress at the SMX Convention Center from October 12 to 13, 2017.

Expected to attend the forum is National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana to talk about business security in the country, particularly of the banana industry.

In a separate interview with Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig he said Del Monte Philippines had previously expressed intent on expanding its banana and pineapple plantations in some parts of Mindanao but due to the peace and order situation in the island, decided to postpone the said expansion.

“It will put a lot of expansion on hold because the investors have fears of investing and then be attacked. We will have a problem with the recovery of the investment. It’s not that easy because most of the investments are loaned from banks,” said Antig.

Loreto added the banana industry players would need the assistance of the government in overcoming this challenge.

“What government must do in this point in time is to really look at the different needs, the different concerns of the industry and focus on where the assistance of the government should be given. We know exactly that the private sectors are doing their best to sustain their enterprise but of course we need the help of the government,” Loreto said.

Aside from the security concerns, what the industry currently faces as challenge is the pest management. Right now, technological advances to produce disease-resistant banana varieties are ongoing but according to Loreto this has yet to be fully successful. Although some big companies have claimed to have found the variety through their own research and development efforts, she said these are still undergoing further stages of testing.

She also sees the intense market competition as another challenge faced by the industry.

“We know for a fact that we are not the sole producer of bananas. We have Ecuador and Puerto Rico. But right now Cambodia, Myanmar, and Indonesia are already coming into the picture. If our industry stakeholders will not take care of their bananas, particularly in terms of the quality, then I guess we are doomed to really be losing the market,” Loreto said.

She added the top banana export markets of the Philippines such as Japan and China are also currently growing their own fruits making the demand lesser than before.