Japanese firm, DA ink pact for farm dev’t

JAPANESE company Farmind Corp. sealed a deal yesterday with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the development of about 7,000 hectares of banana plantations in Mindanao.

“The project is estimated to result in a direct employment of 14,000 farm workers and many more in direct employment in other ancillary services. The Farmind Corp. project is really aimed at providing livelihood opportunities for rebel returnees and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a statement.

The agreement was also for Philippine growers to supply 20 million boxes of Cavendish bananas annually to the Japanese market. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Tokyo.

Edwin Sotto, executive director of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) Davao Chapter, said Japan is the top destination of Philippine bananas as it exported $277.272 million worth of bananas next to China at $157.499 million.

Sotto said the price of local bananas currently increased following the decline in banana production. “The price for our bananas for Japan, just like the trend of prices for other markets, fluctuates due to several factors. Prevailing price is at about $7.00 per box,” he said.

The Philexport and other banana industry stakeholders, he said, are also pushing for the zeroing of tariffs when exporting bananas to Japan.

On the agreement with Farmind Corp., Piñol said “the deal, which was made possible with the help of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is expected to earn for the country an estimated P5 billion every year.”

He said the entry of Farmind supply contract will “again allow the Philippines to dominate the Japan market.” At present, he said the country only holds 75% of the banana supply in Japan as the drop in prices on pump products allowed Ecuador to export their bananas to Japan at low transport cost.

“Philippine bananas dominated the Japanese market supplying as much as 90% of the total requirement but in recent years, bananas from Ecuador have penetrated Japan,” Piñol said. (By Kristianne M. Fusilero)

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