Philippine banana exporters seek gov't aid as losses feared
MANILA, Philippines – Banana exporters appealed to the government for help on Wednesday, July 8, citing stiff competition and a fungal disease affecting their crops.
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) expects banana exports to decline by 20% in 2020, to 162 million boxes worth $1.53 billion, compared to 195 million boxes worth $1.93 billion in 2019.
"As of May, we already saw a 20% decline in production or around 20 million boxes.... We expect the trend to continue," said PBGEA chairman Alberto Bacani, also the chief executive officer of Unifrutti Tropical Philippines, in an online briefing on Wednesday.
China is the top buyer of Philippine bananas.
PBGEA president Victor Mercado Jr, also president of the Marsman-Drysdale Agribusiness Group, said the Chinese could opt to source bananas from Vietnam and Cambodia, countries with much fewer coronavirus cases than the Philippines.
Latin American countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Guatemala are also key competitors, taking market share away from the Philippines in other top export markets like Japan and South Korea due to lower tariffs.
"This is no longer an issue of Philippine banana companies competing against each other. It's all of us competing against other countries in the world," Bacani said.
"We are really threatened by other countries, so we appeal for government support."
Another problem is Panama disease, a fungal disease affecting bananas. Growers need assistance in combating this, according to PBGEA. – Rappler.com