Philippines: President supports creation of banana agency

In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has applauded the strong support displayed by President Rodrigo Duterte for the creation of an agency that will concentrate on the development of the banana industry.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his Facebook post on Saturday 8 Oct., said the banana industry, which is currently the second biggest foreign currency earner of the country next to coconut, for so long has been left to fend for itself, but now has found a champion in Duterte.

Speaking at this year’s Banana Congress at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on Friday, Piñol said the President told stakeholders that he favors a law enacted by the Congress over a proposed Executive Order which called for the creation of Banana Development Council.

The President pointed out that an agency created by law to oversee the development, research, and marketing of Philippine bananas would have a stronger foundation, Piñol also said.

During the event, participants crafted and approved a proposed bill called the Banana Industry Act of 2016 to be submitted to Congress, he added.

“The country is the leading producer of Cavendish banana for export to different countries in Asia and has captured 95 percent of the market,” Piñol said.

With a total investment of P150 billion, the banana industry now generates over $1 billion in earnings every year and employs 540,000 workers. It pays an annual tax to government amounting to over P6 billion, DA figures showed.

The DA chief, however, said the banana industry has largely been left on its own in dealing with problems on plant diseases, tenure issues, and extortion by rebel groups.

In his speech, Duterte also said the effort to reach out to different rebel groups would have a big implication on the banana industry and other agricultural activities.

DA also committed to reforms in the implementation of quarantine regulations to lessen the bureaucratic red tape and prevent corruption.

The Philippines had earlier convinced China to lift its suspension on the export of bananas and pineapple by big fruit corporations, Piñol said.

The President will visit China next week to also discuss the increase in the volume of agricultural products brought into the country of over one billion consumers, he added.

(1 Philippine Peso=0.021 USD)

Source: sunstar.com.ph

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