Philippine banana exporters call for militiamen to protect plantations

A group of banana exporters in the Philippines have appealed to expedite the deployment of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) members to protect their plantations from the New People’s Army (NPA) because “time is of the essence”.

Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig told reporters in an interview Tuesday that Cafgu presence will lessen the incidence of attacks against their plantations and burning of equipment.

Antig said the agriculture sector is hoping the deployment will happen soon amid continuing rebel attacks in other parts of Mindanao.

PBGEA has 27 member companies that operate 40,000 hectares of the 83,000 hectares of banana plantations in Mindanao.

Antig added the industry hopes to get more support from the government to keep it going amid the several challenges that hamper its growth, from natural and man-made calamities to peace and order issues, global market competition, and government regulations.

In Mindanao, he said, PBGEA estimated that the banana industry employs 340,000 workers with a combined annual salary of over US $1 billion and pays the government around US $136 million in taxes.

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