MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines, the world’s third largest banana exporting country, may not be able to meet its export commitments after typhoon “Pablo” destroyed a quarter of the crops in Mindanao.
“I’m afraid that [some] orders from abroad may not be delivered,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in a radio interview on Thursday night, December 6.
Alcala’s department estimates the damage will reach at least P300 million and one of the shipments in danger is a 3,000 metric tons of Cavendish bananas by Dole Philippines to the mainland United States before the end of 2012.
1/4 of crop lost
The Philippines, the world’s third largest exporter of bananas, lost a quarter of its crop in the storm, which is has also likely spread a destructive pest, an industry group said on the the same day.
The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said the deadly typhoon, which has so far killed more than 400 people, would also cost the industry $318 million.
PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig noted that Pablo destroyed 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of the country’s 42,000 hectares of banana farms, mostly in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.
The floods may also have spread a fungus known as the Panama Disease, which prevents the plant from bearing any fruit before eventually killing it and later rendering the affected areas unsuitable for replanting.
P8-B in damage so far
So far the damage to agriculture and infrastructure has already topped P4 billion, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Friday, while Astig predicted the final figure will reach P8 billion.
Rehabilitating farms for the next harvest will likely cost another P5 billion over the next 9 months.
The government is now considering gathering of banana tissue cultures from surviving farms and using them to replant affected plantations.
“Pablo” is the latest blow to the Philippines’ banana industry, which was embroiled in a row this year with major market China over alleged pests on shipments that left tonnes of the fruit to rot at Chinese ports. – Rappler.com, with reports from Agence France-Presse