Banana growers group FBGEA hopes to lower government lower in the Philippines
According to The Manila Times, the Filipino Banana Growers and Entrepreneurs Association (FBGEA), headed by executive director Stephen Antig, has sought lower government fees and more support activities to help uplift the supposedly distressed industry.
Antig recently recommended the possible reduction in lodgment fees with the Bureau of Customs and the suspension of wharfage fees “until the situation gets better.”
Antig mentioned to local media a recent Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report saying fresh banana “recorded the worst dip among the top 10 major commodity groups in terms of the value of exports at -46.9 percent as of January 2021.ˮ
The PSA report also said, “manufactured goods followed at -12.8 percent; machinery and transport equipment, -11.9 percent; and coconut oil, -11.7 percent.”
Antig quoted the PSA as also saying “the industry is surviving though it has a lot of issues and concerns even as its data noted that the value of banana exports in January fell by 47 percent to $84.659 million from $159.454 million in 2020.”
The Manila Timesmentions, reacting to the drop, he said, “planting bananas is still okay but the size should be economical and you should have a ready market.”
The FBGEA official further cited PSA data that revealed most banana plantations are located in Mindanao with “Davao region accounting for 39 percent of the countryʼs total banana production, followed by Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen with 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively.”
Meanwhile, director for high value crops program Nicholls Manalo said, “there is a stimulus fund to revive the banana sector” even as he attributed the decline in produce to the spread of Fusarium wilt, widely known as the Panama disease, a soil oil fungal disease that initially attacks the roots of banana plants.
The Manila Times adds, Manalo explained the disease turns the leaves of banana plants from green to yellow before eventually wilting and anticipated that areas infected with Panama disease may have already doubled to 30,000 hectares from the 15,000 hectares identified by the Department of Agriculture in 2015.
He, however, also noted it is not only the Philippine market that has been affected by the Panama disease but other countries as well.”