Banana industry seeks gov’t assistance amid Covid 19 scare

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) has called on the government to provide more assistance to the banana industry following the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19) scare, which affected banana exports as the Chinese buyers have stopped ordering Philippine bananas.

Since 2018, China has become the biggest buyer of Philippine bananas and was considered as the biggest market among Filipino banana exporters.

PBGEA Executive Director Stephen Antig told Philippine News Agency on Wednesday, that they are hopeful for more interventions since the industry has placed Mindanao in the world map and was now eventually threatened by the Covid 19.

This is our most common complaint, we hope that they will extend more assistance to this industry because the Philippines was known as a producer of world class quality Cavendish bananas, he said.

He also added that if the Covid 19 scare would last for a year, the country would face problems of unemployment since millions have relied on the banana industry.

I don't want to think about it because I will be very worried if it would last for a year. Millions will lose their job and our government will be affected because these people [banana growers] will not be able to pay taxes, Antig said.

Small grower's vs. China market

Antig said that the small banana growers are the most affected of the Covid 19 scare since they mostly sell their products to the China market.

He added that the said Chinese buyers started canceling orders as early as February after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an outbreak on Covid 19.

Most of the Chinese buyers, according to Antig, sent notices that they will halt buying Philippine bananas and was not certain as to when they will start taking orders.

We have a problem, especially on our small banana growers. They do not have long term contracts and they rely on spot buyers. With the outbreak of Covid 19, the spot buyers decreased, he added.

He said that most of the small growers are really affected for they are having difficulties exporting or shipping due to the unavailability of containers which will transport their produce.

Some of the containers are still at the different ports of China. If we recall, they recently celebrated Chinese New Year and after that, the Covid 19 outbreak occurred and it caused the Chinese government to add more holidays for their safety, Antig said.

He added that because of the outbreak, the containers intended to transport the Philippine bananas to China were halted.

Mindanao's banana industry is spread in six regions and 16 provinces and is about 88,000 to 90,000 hectares. Half of the population is under PBGEA and the other half belongs to different banana associations.

Source: Philippines News Agency