Philippines: Mindanao exporters can’t capitalise on potential banana bonanza

The low-calorie, nutrient-dense aspects of bananas pushed the sales of this fruit amid the pandemic. Known for its compact array of nutrients, including fibers and antioxidants, the banana was among the fruits in biggest demand, resulting in competitive and lucrative pricing.

The harsh reality, however, stares local banana players in the eye. Banana exporters in Mindanao failed to get a firm hold of what could have been a great banana bonanza.

“For one thing we do not really have that much bananas because of Panama disease, which continues to ravage our plantations. So even if the demand increased, we could only export so much,” Stephen A. Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), told the BusinessMirror on Wednesday. The PBGEA is an association that groups the 33 major growers and exporters of banana, all doing their operations in Mindanao.

The freight-on-board (FOB) value of all fresh banana exports for the first quarter of the year, or at the time of pandemic, was $489,154,438. This value was an increase of 1.74 percent compared to the price level during the same period last year, according to the PBGEA, citing data released to the organization by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Ninety-five percent of this export of fresh banana is accounted by the Cavendish variety.

However, the volume had actually decreased based on the monitoring of shipment reports, the PBGEA said. “The reason for the increase in value is due to high demand from foreign markets. Banana remains the most popular fruit during the pandemic because of its low price and nutritional value,” the PBGEA pointed out.


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