Look for other markets for bananas: Aquino
DAVAO CITY PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino ordered Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to look for other possible markets for Philippine bananas that were facing problems in China after failing to comply with stringent sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.
Chinese customs initially rejected 43 batches of bananas from Davao, claiming the presence of pests in the boxes. Each container has 1,550 boxes and is worth around $8,000, inclusive of other expenses such as shipping.
“It would be better to look for alternative markets for our bananas and not just be tied to only one country.
These exports are affected when things do not work well with the said market,” the President said after addressing participants in the People’s Organisation Congress held on Monday.
China currently accounts for one-fourth of the total market of the Philippine banana industry and is the country’s biggest market for the Cavendish variety.
Alcala said the government is studying the Middle East as an alternative market for Philippine bananas.
Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo earlier cited Middle East, US, Europe, and South America as alternative export destinations. He added yesterday that South Korea is also a potential alternative market.
However, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association executive director Stephen Antig pointed out that finding alternative markets for Philippine bananas would be hard since China is an ideal market for small growers due to its proximity.
“Aside from the fact that China is the biggest market so far, it is also not competitive for Filipino banana exporters to vie for the United States market and even the Middle East market because of the distance. Banana growers in the North Americas are able to get these markets,” Antig told The STAR.
Apart from having a saturated market, Antig added that China has also imposed strict requirements for the importation of pineapple and papaya, which are also mainly produced in Southern Mindanao.
“It would be very hard for our fruits to get into China already. It is not just banana.
China is also closing its doors on our pineapple and papaya,” Antig stressed.
Domingo, however, gave assurance that China has not formally communicated with the Philippine government that they will stop importing bananas from the Philippines.
“There is no official (communication) for that,” Domingo said.
He said banana exportation to China only slowed down because exporters are waiting for developments.
“They (Chinese authorities) continue to inspect (Philippine banana exports) but the process is slow. The problem is the environment (right now) is politically charged and that is dangerous.
We should not jump to conclusions and until we prove otherwise, we should treat this as a technical issue,” Domingo explained.
Domingo said a team of agricultural experts from the Philippines would be dispatched to China this week to resolve the issue, while a team of Chinese experts had also been sent to the Philippines.
“They will talk to our counterparts there and check on procedures,” he said.