Mindanao banana…

Mindanao banana farmers seek gov’t help on banana export to China
By Prix ImageDigna D. Banzon

DAVAO CITY, May 11 (PNA) — The banana farm growers in Mindanao are asking the government to help and look at policies of banana export to China.

According to Jimmy Estemada, technical consultant of the Federation of Davao Cooperatives (FeDCo), the biggest banana growers group in Mindanao, this came about when their banana exports were put on hold in China ports starting March this year when China laid down some stringent phytosanitary policies on the shipment of bananas to their market.

As of May 10, this year, he said there were approximately 1,500 containers at major ports in China that have been held due to the newly implemented procedure by China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) requiring inspection of every container that comes from the Philippines.

Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) president Stephen Antig said they are also talking with the Secretaries of Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the matter.

He stressed that they expect President Aquino to come up with quick response due to the fact that they are losing by the millions in one week.

He said they are crafting a position paper that they will submit to President Benigno Aquino III.

Based on data presented by Antig to the Davao media, he said they recorded about P174 million losses per week.

Antig said they consider China as a niche market where they started trading years back.

Figures in 2011 showed that of the 158 million boxes that were shipped to foreign markets, 24 million were delivered to the China market.

He said they are targetting 10 percent increase of their delivery this year or some 27 million boxes.

Antig said China started buying Class B bananas and lately shifted to Class A quality.

He said they do not want to think that the recent development at the Scarborough Shoal has something to do with the issue.

“But we feel we are being bullied by them”.

Meanwhile, Estemada said at the China ports there are not enough plug-in facilities where they could store the vans.

“The inspection is not random but all the boxes will be checked,” he said.

He said as of press time no result has been given them and if it will not pass their (China) qualifications, it will also be a problem as they would incur cost when the product will be shipped back to its point of origin or when it will be destroyed and the cost is big.

He said China requires that packing plants must also meet some standards with deadline for compliance next month. There are about 300 packing plants around Mindanao that need to be rehabilitated and their estimated cost for upgrading the plant is about P500,000 per plant.

He said if they want to enter the China market, they have no choice but to comply with China’s standards. (PNA)