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STO. TOMAS MAYOR ERNESTO EVANGELISTA strengthens battle vs. Panama Disease


The municipality of Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte has strengthened its battle against the Panama Disease, the deadly banana disease that has been wreaking havoc on the export Cavendish banana industry, one of the spark plugs of the town’s economy.

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Panama Disease, the most destructive plant disease that crippled the Cavendish banana industry in Panama in the 60s, is a perennial tormentor of banana farms in Davao del Norte, the Philippine capital of exportable, fresh Cavendish bananas, one of the country’s top dollar-earning exports.

The disease resurfaced in Davao del Norte in 2019 and hit several villages of Sto. Tomas, prompting Mayor Ernesto Evangelista to launch massive information campaign on Panama Disease and provide technical assistance to banana plantations hit by the destructive disease, to contain its spread.

The town’s added firepower to fight the soil-borne fungus also known as Fusarium Wilt came in the form of a P5 million fund from the Department of Agriculture to build techno-demo farms aiming to mitigate the impact of the disease.

Mayor Evangelista received the check on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, thanking DA Region Eleven Executive Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr. for the agency’s support to all the programs and projects extended to the agri-sector of Santo Tomas.

The fund will be spent for the establishment of techno-demo farms project of the Municipal Agriculturist’s Office (MAGRO) that aim to study the impact of soil rejuvenation for the rehabilitation of banana Cavendish farms infected by the Panama disease in the municipality of Santo Tomas.

Mayor Evangelista said his administration would now explore feasible options such as the establishment of techno-demo farms to help the banana growers.

It can be recalled that last June 23, 2020, Evangelista sent an endorsement to the Sangguniang Bayan asking for a legislation that would address the issues of price fixing, highlights best practices in pests and disease management, technology updates, maximizing benefits from trade and tariff agreements, and market standards compliance that would strengthen the local Cavendish banana industry.

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Davao del Norte officials numbering close to 200 toured in four batches the controversial roads of the Dapecol reservation area under the joint venture agreement (JVA) between Tagum Agricultural Development Co., Inc (TADECO) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) of the Department of Justice.

The tours commenced last Wednesday, April 11 and ended last Saturday, April 14.

The tours were conducted to provide the  officials opportunity to take a look-see at farm roads alleged by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as public roads and closed off by Tadeco from public passage. 

Tadeco has said that people and vehicles have access to the farm roads but were required to pass through bio-security gates with foot bath and tire dip facilities to thwart entry of the deadly Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt) into the farm.

The tours were organized by Tadeco/BuCor at the instance of the intercession initiated by three barangay captains of Sto Tomas town, praying among others since 2014 that the temporarily closed farm roads of the reservation area be opened for public use and access.

It was learned not all public roads are for public use and access such as roads situated in government reservations like the roads in LGU compounds, educational institutions, military camps, national/local parks and plazas, forest reserves and penal farms.

Their public use and access are almost always restricted thru the implementation of government approved security protocols, it was learned.

Tour participants were Davao del Norte provincial officials, local and barangay officials of Panabo City and LGUs of Carmen, B.E. Dujali and Sto Tomas.

Provincial officials were led by its SP Senior Board member Rodolfo ‘Rodney’ del Rosario.

Local officials were led by their respective mayors and vice mayors: Mayor James Gamao of Panabo City and Vice Mayor Janrey ‘Biboy’ Gavina; Vice Mayor Bobong Soriano of Carmen in lieu of the absence of Mayor Jing Perandos who was with a prior meeting commitment; Mayor Leah Marie ‘Tata’ Moral-Romano of B.E. Dujali and Mayor Daniel Batosalem and Vice Mayor Eric Estela of Sto Tomas town.

Playing major hosts were Tadeco executives led by Archie Capoy, Zeus Badil and AOF OIC Brgy Captain Bert Acedo; Dapecol Superintendent Gerardo Padilla; and the three affected barangay captains-Alan Magallanes of Balagunan, Henly Danila of Bobongon and Geronimo Gumanid of Tulalian, all of Sto Tomas town.

The participants first toured the farm road connecting to Brgy Tanglaw of B.E. Dujali.

It being not a public access road, the JVA partners have mounted tire and foot baths as bio security protocols to contain spread of fusarium wilt in its banana plantation and adjoining privately-owned banana farms in its entry and exit points for commuters going in and out of Brgy Tanglaw.

Even as the participants were public officials in their own rights, they were allowed entry only after passing thru the foot baths and their vehicles thru the tire baths, drivers and their seconds and media personalities accompanying them without exceptions.

They also saw in the flesh the on-going construction of tire and foot baths at the exit point of the controversial El Canto farm road that connects to inner Brgys Balagunan, Tulalian and Bobongon which construction is at the instance of the intercession of the three affected barangay captains so their constituents can access the outside world thru the shortest route from their places of origin.

The last day tour participants also entered the access road in the boundary of the reservation area which was purposely constructed by Tadeco/BuCor immediately after the temporary closures of El Canto and Bugtong Lubi roads sometimes in 2013 as alternate route, though longer, for commuters plying the national highway-Balagunan-Tulalian-Bobongon routes.

Officials also saw the improved conditions of the once severely fusarium wilt-infected farms in the boundaries of the JVA area whose owners, themselves banana growers, partly complied with conditions set by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and a provincial ordinance in containing the spread of fusarium wilt in the banana farmlands.

Participants were also briefed why Dapecol farmroads, in particular El Canto and Bugtong Lubi which have no tire and foot baths in their entry and exit points were temporarily closed pending compliance of conditions set by BPI and the provincial ordinance by independent growers in the boundaries of the reservation area.

Officals opposed to the temporary closure of the road without having to appreciate the intercession initiated by the three barangay captains, let alone their agenda for political prominence, were ‘no show’ in the four-day tour.

Either the opposition officials were invited or not, their absence is for apparent obvious reasons.

50 years of TADECO, Floirendo legacy vs. Alvarez’s jetmatic pumps and road graveling




A few Jetmatic manual pumps, a few low-power generating sets, a few kilometers of road gravelling projects,  a tall promise of multi-million pesos in projects for every  barangay captain, credit grabbing of the billion-peso Tagum City fly-over project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the satellite mini-hospital of the Department of Health (DoH) and the free-irrigation program of President Rodrigo Duterte; credit grabbing of TESDA skills training program and medical assistance to indigents by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Department (DSWD).

Add to that  Davao del Norte’s infamy for having hosted the most lavish, expensive and longest birthday celebration by a government official.

Add to that a Napoleonic hallucination that he is the political kingpin of Davao del Norte.

Add to that the Quixotic battle, in the guise of an anti-corruption campaign, to destroy a five-decade old company that helped Davao del Norte become what it is today.

Can these so-called achievements claimed as accomplished in less than two years save a politician from political ignominy?

 Will they be enough for a member of the House of Representatives like House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who represents the First District of Davao del Norte, to be assured of reelection in the 2019 polls?

As a politician  infected with the bragging disease locally known as “botbot,” Alvarez has no choice but to blow his horns to get attention. And the votes.

Never mind if people refer to a Congressman Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez as “Congressman Botbot,” or to a Speaker Alvarez as “Loudspeaker Alvarez,” Alvarez has no choice but to brag or promise heaven and do a lot of crazy things.  

He has to create situations to be noticed, because Alvarez to most people is an ant, an inconsequential dot in the social, economic and political landscape in Davao del Norte.

He is getting attention, alright, but the kind you expect a politician seeking reelection to dread and hate. But Alvarez does not care.

He is widely talked about with laughter in impromptu joke sessions for his poor attempt to ape President Rodrigo Duterte’s language, grit and brawn.

Behind his back, people gleefully count days when he would be ousted as Speaker.

Even Satan could be laughing, waiting for him, with the Catholic Church confident he would go to hell for his authorship of the divorce bill.

Women despise him for breaking up with his legal wife and bragging he has seven girlfriends.

Even his party mates in the ruling PDP-Laban, of which he is the secretary general, accuse Alvarez of allowing entry of narco-politicians into the party of the President. The war on drugs happens to be President Duterte’s flagship program.

The Alvarez name has become a byword less as Speaker but more as somebody who throws his weight around.   

He is getting much attention and derision in his battle against the banana company Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco), owned by the family of Davao del Norte Second District Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo, his erstwhile friend and political supporter.

By taking on Tadeco and Floirendo, Alvarez is committing political hara-kiri, and his fate is already written in the doomsday wall in so far as 2019 is concerned.

Tadeco and Tonyboy are considered as institutions in Davao del Norte for their long years of involvement in local politics and the economic development of the province. Unlike Alvarez, the people of Davao del Norte values gratitude.

Tadeco since the 60s from the time of its founder, the late industrialist Don Antonio Floirendo, Sr., played key role in the political and economic life of Davao del Norte by providing employment, paying large amount of tax and generating livelihood and business opportunities related to its banana business.

Tadeco, the country’s largest producer and exporter of Cavendish bananas also placed the Philippines, and Davao del Norte, in the map of the world’s banana capitals.

Congressman Floirendo is continuing the Tadeco legacy of service to the people and government and the over-all welfare of the province.

Aside from doling out jetmatic pumps and cheap generating sets, what has Alvarez done for Davao del Norte as Speaker of the House of Representatives?

Alvarez’s over-zealous fanaticism to destroy Tadeco and his former friend Tonyboy has taken a more dangerous direction as he now also wants to destroy the whole banana industry.

Recently Alvarez’s chief of staff, apparently beguiled by his boss being the No. 4 most powerful man in the country, led a team that destroyed bio-security measures at the entrance to the Tadeco plantation thus opening up entry of the deadly Panama Disease into the farm.

Perennial loser in previous elections, Alvarez was saved from a permanent entombment in a political grave by the financial support of Tonyboy in his run for Congress in the 2016 elections.

Snake in the grass is what people call people who bite the arm of their benefactors.

Alvarez has questioned a Congress-approved agreement between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections involving the penal reservation of Dapecol. Tadeco developed the once barren reservation area  into a banana plantation that provided thousands of jobs and millions of pesos in taxes and share in the produce for government; and gave the company a key role in the penal rehabilitation program by hiring inmates as workers in the banana farm.

alvarez del rosario

The Davao del Norte Provincial Government led by Governor Anthony del Rosario and all its municipalities have come out with a solid opposition to Alvarez, and approved resolutions in support of the Tadeco-BuCor Joint Venture Agreement (JVA).  

Alvarez also filed a graft rap against Tonyboy, his former friend and political supporter, in connection with the Tadeco-BuCor deal.

Well, by hitting at his benefactor, Alvarez is merely being true to his character.

Alvarez as the current Speaker of the House unceremoniously removed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as chair of a House committee after the now Pampanga congresswoman voted against the death penalty bill, a controversial measure pushed by Alvarez. Never mind that GMA during her regime named Alvarez as secretary of transportation, where he made the news for alleged involvement in a scandalous multi-million-peso project of the  Manila international airport.

If ouster plots against Alvarez in the House continue to swirl, you cannot fault GMA for it, as there are many other reasons why congressmen want him out.

He has warned congressmen would have zero budget if they would not vote for bills he endorsed.

In Davao del Norte, people of the Second District grieve over the Speaker’s reported removal from the national annual budget of about  one billion pesos worth of development projects for their district, all because Tonyboy’s lady friend had a catfight with the Speaker’s girlfriend.

Amid talks of a fat commission, Alvarez said he would spank in public any public official who is against the billion-peso Tagum City flyover project, after Governor Anthony del Rosario said that the project was not consulted with the people.   

Speaker Alvarez thinks that, as the No. 4 most powerful man in the country today, he has a franchise to push his weight around, and has no qualms about insulting everybody including presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Alvarez has described as an “opposition” a regional party — Hugpong ng Pagbabago — that Mayor Sara formed together with governors of the Davao Region.

This insult so angered Mayor Sara that she called the Speaker an “asshole” and a liability to the administration of President Duterte. She has vowed to campaign against the congressman’s reelection in 2019.

But Alvarez is unfazed by Mayor Sara’s threat and has in fact boasted that he is forming his own regional line-up to battle it out versus the Hugpong ng Pagbabago slate of the presidential daughter.

Alvarez should remember that  being the No. 4 most powerful man in the country is no guarantee he would be back in the House after the 2019 elections.

The old tradition of political patronage of jetmatic pumps, generating sets, road gravelling, credit-grabbing and fat envelopes, proved useless to  a former Speaker from Davao City who miserably lost in three mayoral races in failed attempts to capture the Davao City Hall away from the hands of the Dutertes.

Already, Alvarez has made history by becoming the second politician from Davao who became Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He will make another history in the 2019 election: He will be the second Speaker of the House, the No. 4 most powerful man in the country, who would be defeated in a local election.


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BOAO FORUM. Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo (Second District, Davao del Norte), with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio at the sideline of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China.


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.

lapanday npa raid

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.


tadeco lab

Anflo Group of Companies President and CEO Alexander Valoria (far left) leads the ribbon cutting of the receiving area of Tadeco’s Agro-Technology Outreach Program Monday in Magsaysay, Carmen, Davao del Norte. In photo with him are (from second left to right) Mayor Leah Marie Moral-Romano of B.E Dujali, MBFEA Executive Director Evelyn Magno, Anflocor SVP Ricardo R. Floirendo, Mayor James Gamao of Panabo, PBGEA Executive Director Stephen Antig, Mayor Virginia Perandos of Carmen and Mayor Daniel Batosalem of Sto. Tomas.



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.”




Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez  on Tuesday tried to deliver a death sentence on the banana industry, the country’s major dollar-earning export, by forcing a banana plantation in Davao del Norte to remove bio-security barriers that would protect bananas from the deadly Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt).

The bio-diversity measures – consisting of checkpoints, foot baths and tire baths— ordered under Administrative Order No. 1 by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), a line agency of the Bureau of Agriculture (DA), were installed in 2012 by Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) to protect the farm against Panama Disease.

Tadeco and other banana farms in the Davao Region were then under severe attack by the Panama Disease. The plant disease remains a threat to the industry today.

The fungus that attacks banana roots almost crippled the banana industry in Latin American countries in the 80s and 90s.

On March 20, during a House committee hearing, Alvarez muscled the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tadeco to open a road with bio-security barriers to the public, even as Tadeco  protested that it would open the farm to Panama Disease infestation.

Bucor Superintendent Gerardo Padilla dismissed Alvarez, saying that he would open the road only if ordered by the Department of Agricultural and the Davao del Norte provincial government.

Early this month, Tadeco said it would file charges against the chief of staff of Alvarez who led the demolition of a metal swing beam at a checkpoint at the entrance of a Tadeco farm.

The March 20 hearing tackled a House resolution  initiated by Alvarez raising questions on the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Tadeco and BuCor involving the reservation area of the penal colony.

At the joint hearing by the House good government and public accountability committee and the justice committee, Alvarez rejected BuCor and Tadeco’s reasoning that roads in the area had to be restricted to prevent the spread of


DavNor journalists confirm no road closures


House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was lying when he alleged that banana company Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) closed off from the public farm roads in its plantation in Davao del Norte.

Journalists belonging to the Davao Region Multimedia Group  confirmed as “fake news” the claim of Alvarez, during a recent media-organized ocular inspection of the Tadeco farm.

alvarez floirendo

The false claim is among issues leveled by Alvarez (DavNor, 1st  District) against Tadeco, owned by the family of 2nd District Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo.
Alvarez is a former friend and political ally of Floirendo, who is credited with having funded the congressman’s past election campaigns before he became Speaker under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
After a break-up last year triggered by a public quarrel between their girlfriends, Alvarez filed a graft complaint before the Ombudsman against Floirendo.


The Speaker also initiated a House  inquiry into the  Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over about 5,300 hectares of Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) that Tadeco, the country’s largest banana producing and exporting company, developed into a banana plantation. The JVA provided share in revenues for BuCor and, as part of a penal rehabilitation program for inmates, employed as farm workers hundreds of prisoners serving time in the penal colony.
Alvarez’s graft case against Floirendo and his initiative in the House to question the legality of the decades-old Tadeco-BuCor land deal are widely criticized in Davao del Norte. Tadeco is one of the province’s biggest taxpayer and employer.


The alleged farm road closure is a propaganda line peddled against Floirendo, Tadeco and Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario, a cousin of Floirendo, by a horde of fake broadcasters apparently linked to the Speaker, who is seeking reelection in the 2019 election.  
About 30 members of the media group who joined the inspection found out that Tadeco did not prevent public use of the farm roads.
However, Tadeco required vehicles and people to undergo tire and foot baths before entering the plantation.
The foot bath and tire dips are mandated on Tadeco by a 2012 order of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to protect plantations against deadly banana diseases.
BPI issued the order as banana plantations in Davao del Norte were devastated by the deadly Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt).
The root disease Panama Disease, like the banana leaf disease Black Sigatoka that earlier also attacked Davao Region farms, remain a major threat to bananas in the region.
The twin threats to the exportable Cavendish banana industry, the country’s second biggest dollar export earner, crippled the banana industry in Latin America and South Asian countries in fatal attacks in the 70s and 80s.
Panama Dosease first surfaced in the country in 2012 prompting BPI to issue an order imposing bio-security measures in all banana plantations throughout the country.