By ROGER M. BALANZA
This is the troubling figure that should be considered if aerial spraying in banana plantations is banned.
Aerial spraying of fungicide—a non-toxic chemical according to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority—is the fastest, most cost-effective and safest method of fighting the deadly leaf disease black sigatoka.
The Philippine government agonizing over whether or not to ban aerial spraying that has been practiced in banana plantations for over 40 years should seriously weigh its options before making a final decision.
Without aerial spraying, Philippine export Cavendish bananas could drop in volume and quality to affect its standing in the world market.
Without aerial spraying, the Philippine labor department predicts trouble in terms of livelihood and employment and the economy of the Davao Region and neighboring provinces.
An order banning aerial spray would be a huge blow to Philippine bananas, affecting an estimated 400,000 banana plantation farmers in Davao Region alone, said the labor department.
Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Davao Region Director Jalilo dela Torre knew whereof he speaks. He is based in the Davao Region, where growing of export Cavendish bananas is the major industry.
Banana exporting is one of the region’s strongest economic drivers, he said, to emphasize how the ban would impact on the local economy.
But he said, putting a damper on the banana industry like the ban on aerial spraying could also have a reeling effect on the Mindanao and national economy.
“The banana industry contributes a lot to Mindanao’s economy and the country’s foreign exchange, Dela Torre adds.
With about 200,000 full time employees and another 200,000 indirect employees hired in banana plantations, we can indeed see trouble if aerial spraying is banned,” dela Torre told media in Davao City.
“I would really encourage those responsible for formulating the (ban on aerial spraying), whether DA (Department of Agriculture) or DOH (Department of Health), to really consider the employment side on this matter,” dela Torre.
“If the banana plantations will be forced to abandon the method of aerial spraying, especially multinational corporations, they might decide to relocate. This will pose a tremendous negative impact on the employment scenario in Region 11. I understand they’ve already taken steps to relocate to other countries,” dela Torre said, adding the multinational corporations could simply transfer to other countries if they are pushed to the wall by the ban. He said he knew of several companies now taking the option of scouting for banana farms in India, Indonesia or India.