THE Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) in Davao Region is expecting a drop of 30 percent in banana exports by the end of this year.

Philexport chairman Steven Antig attributes this to the effect of climate change in the region.

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"In 2009 we were able to export 155 million boxes of banana but this year we had an El Niño, a long dry spell, and we expect this would greatly affect the number of produce we can export. Now, we are also suffering from La Nina. Some plantations are themselves flooded and we don't know how much this could affect us by the end of the year but at an estimate, this could lower our export by 30 percent," Antig said in an interview Tuesday at Apo View Hotel.

Antig said one possible effect on this drop of resources is that their buyers, such as Japan, would seek other banana producers in other Asian countries.

"It's not that they will back out but actually it's us who don't have enough supplies. We have buyers but we don't have enough supplies. It's not far a possibility that they would transfer to other banana growers in other countries ang mga buyers and not only that marami ang nakawan ngayon," said Antig, who also chairs Pilipino Banana Growers Exporters Association (PBGEA).

Antig said the same is being experienced by other fruit producing industries such as mango and papaya but could not give details to this.

"I'm not familiar sa other fruits kasi there's a different association for mango growers, papaya, and coconut but I believe they could be experiencing the same thing as climate change has made a shift to the process of the fruits' growth. Still, considering banana is a big industry beneficial to Mindanao, this is something that should have concern," Antig said.

Antig said climate change is among the things that will be discussed during the Mindanao Exporters' Forum back to back with the 14th Mindanao Trade Expo (MTE).

The forum set on August 19 to 20 at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas mini-theater is dubbed "Mindanao... Our Agenda" and is aimed at answering the various issues and concerns confronting the Mindanao-based exporters and the entire business community.

Philexport for Davao Region president Ann Pamintuan during Tuesday's press conference said that the business community must be one in addressing pressing issues in order to have a common stand and direction. "Just like the Mindanao power problem, it's everybody's concern. However, it has a bigger impact on the business sector," she said.

Aside from the power/energy situation of Mindanao, other concerns that will be tackled during the two-day forum are Climate Change: a Corporate Social Responsibility; International Standards Organization Orientation; Exports Efficiency and Profitability; Hedging - a Creation of Investment; and Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters and Export Pathways, EDC's Export Development Plan, among others. (Jade C. Zaldivar)