BANANA exporters are encouraged to have better and higher-quality products if they want to come back to exporting to Russia.

Agriculture assistant secretary Leandro Gazmin said the Philippines is now the 4th banana source of Russia with only about 4 percent of market share compared to it being the first banana source of Russia five years ago with more than 90 percent of market share. He said this is primarily because of the typhoon that hit Mindanao in 2012 and thus caused inconsistency with supply.

In an earlier interview with the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association Inc. (MBFEA) president Richard Mark delos Reyes, he said they are still determined to bringing back the country as the top exporter of Russia.

Gazmin said banana chips or crackers and fresh banana are ranked as the 3rd and 4th agricultural commodities exported to Russia by the Philippines.

“To avoid the mistakes of the past, Philippine companies must ensure that the quality and quantity of the Philippine bananas should remain stable at all times. Banana farmers and exporters should also consider planting bigger size bananas which is the demand requirement of Russia,” said Gazmin adding the standard size for banana in Russia are 4 and 5 hands.

He said the Philippines continues to push for the Russian export market as they see the huge potential it has, not mentioning that it is the biggest country in the world and the improved Philippine-Russia trade relations should be taken advantage of.

Gazmin said when they visited Vladivostok, Russia in September, they noticed that most of the products there are from China given its short distance to the said country. He said he was hoping to see Philippine bananas from China there as well but unfortunately the bananas were still from Ecuador.

He said with China as one of the major banana destinations of the Philippines, they are hoping to be able to penetrate its neighbor Vladivostok as well.