BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Low produce in the Philippines and increased production in banana-growing countries in Latin America are the major threats to the Philippine banana industry, said Alexander Valoria, president of Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco).
Valoria bared these current scenarios as Tadeco opened on March 12, 2018, three state-of-the art laboratory facilities aimed to increase banana production in the Davao region. Banana producer and exporter Tadeco is based in Davao del Norte, but also operates plantations in other areas of the region.
“From 2011 to 2016, annual fresh banana exports of the Philippines dropped by 50 million boxes. In the same time frame, annual banana exports from Central and South America increased by 137 million boxes, said Valoria.
Bananas from Central and South America are now going worldwide, while the Philippines is stuck to its old markets.
“We see (today) their bananas in China, Japan, Korea and the Middle East in increasing numbers,” Valoria said.
Even the Asian market, the Philippine bananas’ lifeblood, may see an invasion.
“Central and South American banana associations (have said) that they will continue to penetrate the Asian market. We cannot allow them to do that. Together, as the Philippine banana industry, we must meet and defeat that threat to our markets,” said the president of the Philippines’ largest producer and exporter of Cavendish bananas.
“That can only be achieved if our industry will produce much more banana exports. We need to regain the ground that we lost in our Asian markets and even threaten their own US and European markets with Philippine bananas,” he said.
Increased production is at the bottom line of the state-of-the-art laboratories recently launched by Tadeco.
The three facilities, with local investment of P100 Million and a grant from the Dutch government, consist of a pathology (pest and diseases), tissue culture and trichoderma laboratories.
According to Valoria, companies and farmer-growers can avail of the facilities at minimal fees.
These laboratory services and products are integral towards increasing production, said Valoria.
Here is Valoria’s thoughts on TADECO’s trailblazing Agro-technical outreach program, first published by Jimmy Laking in Edge Davao:
“Today is a milestone in our continuing effort to improve production in terms of both quality and volume in our banana business and also for other agricultural crops. It is the culmination of the hard work of tadeco’s research team led by Dr. Corcolon, the company’s investment of over P100m and even a grant from the Dutch government through their Promo Banana Project.
Today we launch Tadeco’s AgroTechnical Outreach Program that makes world class laboratory services that are so critical for our agricultural operations available right here in the middle of Davao del Norte. We made that commitment to many of our fellow Bananeros and to government. And today it is a reality.
To be able to check on soil nutrient status, diagnosis of diseases through conventional and molecular approaches eg for FW in plants or soil or in water, root health status, active ingredient analysis for formulated products, analysis of fertilizers, etc. quickly and here in Davao del Norte will be a huge advantage for the banana industry. Furthermore, we will be selling tissue cultured planting material that is FW tolerant as well as selling trichoderma packs that we ourselves use extensively and consider integral to our program against FW.
Last year 2017, Tadeco achieved new production records. Tadeco produced 35.99 million boxes. Our ABC farms produced another 3 million boxes for an aggregate of 39 million boxes. The planation average yield was 5,400 boxes per hectare, overall for Tadeco. I congratulate the Tadeco team for such an accomplishment!
Obviously, such production and quality levels could not have been reached without the advantage of a world class agricultural laboratory and technical personnel. We want to share this advantage with the rest of the banana industry and that is why today is important for all of us.
From 2011 to 2016, annual fresh banana exports of the Philippines dropped by 50 million boxes. In the same time frame, annual banana exports from Central and South America increased by 137 million boxes. Thus we see their bananas in China, Japan, Korea and the ME in increasing numbers. In the last Corbana meeting, C and South American banana associations stated clearly that they will continue to penetrate the Asian market. We cannot allow that to do that. Together, as the Philippine banana industry, we must meet and defeat that threat to our markets. That can only be achieved if our industry will produce much more banana exports. We need to regain the ground that we lost in our Asian markets and even threaten their own US and European markets with Philippine bananas. These laboratory services and products will be integral to the success of those objectives.”