Japan, South Korea want to import Cavendish banana from MILF areas

CAMP ABUBAKAR, Maguindanao-- The governments of Japan and South Korea are keen on importing Cavendish banana from the Philippines provided that it would come from acknowledged areas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This was bared by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiAol, who visited this camp late Wednesday afternoon to witness the graduation of 362 former MILF combatants who went back to farming after attending the Farmers' Field School (FFS), a joint program of the Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The FFS "Upland Rice-Based Farming Technology Transfer Program for the Bangsamoro" is a two-year training program seeking to transfer new rice-based technology to upland rice farmers.

The FFS graduates came from MILF farming areas in Matanog, Buldon and Barira in Maguindanao; Balabagan, Kapatagan and Marogong in Lanao del Sur; and Lanao del Norte.

"I wish that through this project, we could move on and find the peace that has eluded Mindanao for so long," PiAol said in his speech.

PiAol then bared the interest of Japan to import 20 million boxes of Cavendish bananas yearly resulting from President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to the country in October last year.

"I was part of the President's delegation during the Japan visit," he said.

PiAol noted that South Korea also expressed interest to import 30 million boxes yearly.

He said the farmers have already a "sure market" in Makati for their rice produce.

JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito said he admired the graduates for their sincerity to complete the program.

MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim led the graduates on thanking President Rodrigo R. Duterte, JICA and the Department of Agriculture for the technology extended to MILF farmers.

"Forget the past and move forward for peace and progress," he told the graduates.

Source: Philippines News Agency