Banana conference to address security, other issues: officials

THE PHILIPPINE Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) is set to hold the next banana conference in the city next month in its efforts to address issues affecting production of the industry in the Davao Region.

Philexport president Ferdinand Marañon said yesterday during the weekly “Kapehan sa Dabaw” at SM City Davao Annex that the conference is set to address problems that the industry is facing even if there are countries that have expressed interest in buying from the Philippines but they are concern about their security.

“This is the main concern is that they (prospective buyers) have now… based on our survey that we have conducted. There were a lot of banana plantations that were raided by armed groups,” he said.

He said companies have feared that the raids would continue and that this will drastically impact on the production. “The multinational companies in the banana industry will soon probably fold up, adding that these kind of situations are already beyond their (investors)  means to cope with,” he said.

Last year, a multinational company decided to shut down its farm in Surigao del Sur after New People’s Army conducted several raids on its farm. Based on the estimates of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association estimated that the company lost about P20 million mainly due to the revolutionary taxes that the rebels were demanding from the company.

Marañon said his group has invited Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to answer the security problems raised by the industry.

He said they are hoping that Lorenzana will assure companies of security so they will invest.

 “We know that the market is big, especially for quality bananas to Japan and Korea as they are looking for Philippine banana. It’s just the main reason is of the peace and order problem,” he said.

The two-day conference will be on October 12 and 13 at SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang.

Meanwhile, Philexport executive director Marizon Loreto said that the primary focus of the conference will be on exporting the commodity.

Loreto said: “This is practically done this year because of the clamor of the banana stakeholders after the result of the banana congress conducted last year.”

“Their consciousness and awareness on what to do practically to the crucial issues confronting the banana industry has given them the impetuous to have another round of conference.”

The organization, she said, is staging the event to put in context the different challenges confronting the industry.

These will primarily include problems on security, peace and order, market competition, tariff problems, and the perennial banana disease.

She said there will be banana production experts who are going to participate in the event to discuss the current status of the industry and at the same time provide some strategic solutions and priority actions to address these challenges.

The conference will also discuss the competitiveness of the industry as there will also be some technical experts that will tackle some of the breakthroughs of the industry in managing banana diseases the affect production.

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