ROCKED by El Niño and Fusarium wilt or Panama disease, the banana industry lost at least 5.11 percent of the total land area planted with bananas in Mindanao in 2015.

Based on the record of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), Mindanao's land area for the bananas was pegged at 42,316.41 hectares in 2015 while 44,479.65 hectares in 2014, or at least 2,163.24 hectares was lost in that period.

Davao Region remained to be the biggest banana-producing area with 28,680 hectares, followed by Soccsksargen with 6,910 hectares, Northern Mindanao with 3,814 hectares, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) with 1,811 hectares, and Caraga Region with 1,099 hectares.

PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said that banana players have suffered from the Fusarium wilt in the recent years, which the industry leaders have yet to discover a variety that is resistant to the disease with the same quality that is acceptable by the global market.

There have been resistant varieties developed like the GCTCV218 and OT219 but none of these have so far shown 100 percent success, he said.

Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) in Davao Region accounted at least 6,000 hectares in Mindanao has been affected by the Fusarium wilt and El Niño that will last until summer of this year.

He asked the government to suppport the banana players, most especially the small farmers, so that they will not completely be taken out of the picture while the industry is recovering from the losses.

Antig said that small farmers will greatly be affected when the worse comes to worst for the industry.

He previously said that he sees a global market war this year with Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and India, as they have started shipping bananas to the Philippines' existing markets such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

The production volume also decreased from January to September 2015 with 85,324,491 boxes as compared to 90,147,480 boxes of the same period in 2014.

The 2014 fresh banana exports of the country was placed at US$1.1 billion, based on the PBGEA record.

Antig said that among the industry challenges they are faced with are the peace & order situation in areas where there is insurgency issues and pole vaulting, pests and diseases like Black Sigatoka and Bunchy Top, government policies, and sustained competitiveness.