In 2019, agricultural exports from the Philippines managed to rise by 8.6 percent to nearly $5 billion, the second-highest recorded in the previous decade. According to preliminary government data, banana shipments were able to offset the decline in coconut-based exports.
However, economists say that the Philippines are still overdependent on too few commodities, which are mostly raw farm goods, instead of value-added products.
Preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicated that the total agro-based exports last year reached $4.98 billion, higher than the $4.584 billion recorded in 2018. This was the second-highest recorded revenue from agro-based products in the previous decade after the $5.13 billion recorded in 2017, data from the PSA showed.
Figures also indicated that banana shipments, which rose by 40 percent to a record-high of nearly $2 billion, bannered the country’s agro-based exports last year. Bananas allowed total receipts to end 2019 in the black despite the slump in shipments of coco-based products, particularly coconut oil, which used to be the top farm export of the Philippines.
Covid-19 affects local banana exporters
Apart from this, exporters of banana products from Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are certainly affected by the outbreak of coronavirus disease or Covid-19. Jonathan Lo, chief executive officer of Merzci Pasalubong, revealed that his partner in China has stopped receiving imported banana chips from the province since middle of January this year because of the export stoppage to China following the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We used to export P1 million worth of banana chips called Bana Master to China every week. We were just starting,” Lo revealed, adding that they used to export a 40-footer high cube Bana Master to China since August 2019.
Lo said they get the supply from local producers in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental especially in Guilhulngan, Kabankalan City, Salvador Benedicto and Cadiz. Local producers of bananas are losing out on revenues because of export stoppages to China.