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Struggling Filipino banana industry seeks lower fees and fewer restrictions

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Entrepreneurs Association (PBGEA) is demanding fewer government fees and more support to prop up the troubled industry. PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig stated that it would also help to have simpler procedures for the compliance of stakeholders.

Antig cited the possible reduction in lodgement fees with the Bureau of Customs, as well as the ‘suspension of wharfage fees until the situation gets better’. Considering the logistics problems that surfaced during the pandemic, he said local government units (LGUs) should also slash or retract some of their additional protocols on banana growers and entrepreneurs.

"The LGUs [should] refrain from coming up with ordinances that encroach on the right to contract freely," Antig told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

A Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report released on March 12 showed that fresh bananas recorded the worst dip among the top 10 major commodity groups in terms of the value of exports.  PSA data also showed that the value of banana exports in January fell by 47 percent to USD84.659 million from USD159.454 million in 2020.

Most banana plantations are located in Mindanao, with the Davao region accounting for 39 percent of the country’s total banana production, followed by Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen with 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively, according to PSA data.

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