Mindanao Times

Internal issues hound banana industry: Official


ASIDE from outside forces, the banana industry has also been trying to face internal issues like pole vaulting and even brain drain.

Of late, Stephen A. Antig, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Associatio­n executive director, told TIMES last week that he has received reports that some groups that are into tissue culture of banana cultivars have been selling these planting materials to foreign countries.

“This is dangerous because these groups are selling directly to our competitor­s,” said Antig as he pushed the Bureau of Plant Industry whether these exporters comply with the requiremen­ts in exporting planting materials.

Based on the informatio­n from the regional office of the Department of Agricultur­e, those who want to export banana planting materials, if these are tissue cultured, must pass through a rigid evaluation from the Bureau of Plant Industry before they can do so.

However, if these planting materials are prepared using soil, these cannot be exported because of the danger that these can become the reason for contaminat­ion in farms that they will be planted to.

Antig said exporting banana planting materials to other countries, particular­ly those preparing to compete with the country in the internatio­nal market, is “slowly killing our own companies.”

In a forum last week, Antig also admitted that some technical experts of local companies have started to work in other countries because of higher salaries. “They have been pirating our technical people, offering three times to four times (compared with) what they are getting here,” he said.

He said the local industry “cannot afford to lose our good people, our technical people who are very experience­d in terms of banana growing because humility aside, I believe we grow one of the best bananas in the world.”

He also confirmed the prevalence of pole vaulting, a term coined to emphasize that some banana growers are selling their produce not to the buyers that they signed up with. “There are still incidents,” he said.

Although happening in the past in smaller quantities, the prevalence of pole vaulting started in 2012 when some consolidat­ors started their business by offering prices higher than the prevailing market price.

This prompted some growers to abandon the buyers that they signed up with and sold their produce to consolidat­ors. But since some consolidat­ors were not equipped with technical knowledge in exporting bananas, some of them suffered huge losses.

Antig said these issues and other key challenges must be addressed in coordinati­on with the national government to ensure that the industry will continue to grow. Industry representa­tives are set to meet with newly-appointed Agricultur­e Secretary William Dar on Thursday.

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