Sunday, March 24, 2019

Challenges hound banana industry in 2018

THE banana industry is one of the economic drivers for Davao Region given with the vast and rich lands suitable for growing export-quality bananas.

The province of Davao del Norte is even dubbed as the “Banana Capital of the Philippines” having major banana plantations like Marsman, Stanfilco, Lapanday, and Tadeco driving the export industry of the province.

Though this big-scale banana industry continues to be major economic player for Davao region, threats continue to emerge this year through the various competition our banana industry faces in the global market.

Philippine Banana Growers Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig said increasing export sales revenue are still recorded but production costs are still high, making the increased revenue slightly felt.

Data from the Department of Agriculture Davao Region showed the country’s banana industry had a 56 percent increase in export amounting to a value of $1.128 million. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the increase is attributed to the expansion of banana plantations and less weather disturbances.

PSA reports bananas ranked fourth with $140.91 million and a 2.5 percent share to the total export receipts in June 2018.

Antig added that with the recorded export increase, production cost remained high. Antig said costs on the rising oil prices must be accounted for, and the recent increase on the region’s minimum wage to P56 can affect the cost of production.

Meanwhile, Antig said the industry continues to address issues on production through conferences like the recently held 1st International Banana Congress in Davao City where international business delegates participated and discussed on developments on banana. Antig said the conference helped address issues on Panama disease, a fungal pathogen which stunt banana’s growth.

Antig also said issues on tariff continue to affect international trade for banana. In previous reports, PBGEA continues to push bilateral talks with Korea to lower the tariff to zero.

This developed after the international trade of bananas in Asia became more competitive with the entry of Central American players that are enjoying zero tariffs.

Last October, Antig said they would be meeting with Korean business delegates to fast-track negotiations in reducing tariff.

In a data gathered by PBGEA, South Korea prices bananas at $3.90 per kilograms (kg), making it the most expensive country when it comes to selling bananas. It is followed by Switzerland at $2.90/kg, Japan at $2.77/kg. Meanwhile India and Egypt sell bananas at $0.65/kg.

Antig said Filipino banana exporters may lose the South Korean market should the tariff remain.


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