PH may delay export of Cavendish bananas to US after 'Pablo'
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, the world's third largest banana exporting country, may delay its first shipment of Cavendish banana exports to the United States due to the damage wrought by Typhoon Pablo.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala told reporters on Thursday, December 13, that the delay would be 'practical' considering the gravity of the damage to Cavendish banana plantations in Mindanao.
"It's more practical to delay (these shipments) because we have to meet our commitment to other countries first," Alcala explained.
Dole Philippines Inc. was scheduled to ship 3,000 metric tons of banana to the US this December after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved it in October.
Help for banana growers
To help banana growers recover their losses from 'Pablo', the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) will extend P2.1 billion-worth of loans for big banana growers.
These loans, Alcala explained, would have an 18-month grace period and very low interest rates. Alcala said the grace period would be more than enough time to allow banana growers to rehabilitate their plantations.
Alcala added that the DA is also looking for other means to help small banana growers who have also been affected by Typhoon Pablo such as rehabilitating their farms through tissue culture.
"It will take 10 months, at least, to rehabilitate the banana industry. That's why the government needs to help them and focus on their needs at this time," Alcala said in the vernacular.
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) earlier said the bananas would be exported by Dole Philippines, which is based in Bukidnon province, in southern Mindanao. US Ambassador Harry Thomas also visited the Dole plant in October.
The Philippines exports Cavendish bananas to Japan and China. The decision of the USDA to allow Philippine bananas to enter the US market was treated as a welcome development after China impounded shipments from Manila due to the presence of scale insects.
China then subjected Philippine bananas to more stringent sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, causing a decline in the country's banana exports in mid-2012. - Rappler.com