Bananas from the Philippines, in particular export Cavendish bananas from Davao del Norte, stand to benefit from President Rodrigo Duterte’s participation in a recent China-sponsored world economic forum.
Duterte attended the 3-day 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), in Hainan, China, which was themed “An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity.” The forum aimed to foster closer trade relations between China and Asian countries.
In his departure speech on April 9 at the Davao International Airport, President Duterte said he would make a pitch for more exports of Philippine fruits to China.
Fresh Cavendish banana is the Philippines’ second biggest dollar earning exportable fruits, after pineapples. China is an emerging market for Philippine bananas.
President Duterte’s push for larger fruit volume in the Chinese market, gained added strength with Congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr. in the official contingent of the President.
The family of Congressman Floirendo (Second District, Davao del Norte), owns the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco), the country’s biggest producer and exporter of Cavendish bananas. Tadeco, the country’s pioneering banana company was founded in the 60s by the father of Congressman Floirendo, the late industrialist Don Antonio Floirendo Sr. Tadeco operates banana farms in Davao del Norte.
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.
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.
Other than the competition in the world market, Philippine bananas are also facing local threats, including the armed communist New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA burns plantation equipment and cut banana trees in raids on farms of companies who refuse to pay revolutionary tax.
In Davao del Norte, the banana industry is troubled by spread of the deadly Fusarium Wilt or Panama Disease after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez caused the removal of bio-security measures adopted by banana plantations in Davao del Norte. Panama Disease has been a threat to the industry in the province since 2012.
President Duterte in Hainan on April 10 witnessed the signing of several business letters of intent (LOIs) involving Chinese companies. The LOIs included banana exports from the Philippines.
The President wants to further develop the economic cooperation between the two countries in various fields including agriculture.
According to the Chinese embassy, China and the Philippines, since 2016, have signed more than 40 cooperation documents. In 2017, its trade volume exceeded USD50 billion for the first time, making China the Philippines’ top trading partner, top import origin and the fourth largest export market.