PILIPINO Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen Antig said there was a seven percent decrease of exported bananas from Davao Region due to dry spell season.

Antig said based on their data for the first quarter of this year, the decrease was about 20 to 25 metric tons (MT) or 20,000 to 25,000 kilograms of bananas.

“I believe there was a decrease of that much because of the dry season that we experienced from the last quarter of 2018 up to the first quarter of 2019,” Antig said.

“The drought has affected the production areas in Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley province, and that even resulted [in] the closure of some companies that cannot cope with the losses anymore,” he added.

The latest data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)-Davao showed that banana is the region's top export commodity during the first quarter of this year with export value of US$469.7 million.

However, Antig said this was only due to low volume of bananas in other parts of Mindanao due to drought which affected some Mindanao regions.

He added that the increase of export value of bananas was also because the prices of imported bananas continue to rise in China.

“In 2018, for the first time, our export in China surpassed our export in Japan. So in 2018, China became our number one market,” he said.

Meanwhile, Antig said aside from the weather, banana production in the region is still being challenged by other factors like Panama disease and Sigatoka leaf spot, a fungal disease. Both affect the banana plants.

He said while PBGEA has lined up programs to help the banana industry in the region, the government should also see the contribution of the industry to the economy of the country and make it one of its priorities.