Banana growers, exporters tap local market, schools | Inquirer News
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Banana growers, exporters tap local market, schools

/ 08:21 PM May 21, 2012

DAVAO CITY—Undernourished children being fed by the government through its supplemental food program may soon have bananas in their meals.

Banana growers and exporters in Mindanao are considering the government program, as well as domestic buyers, as alternative market for up to 1.3 million boxes of “surplus” Cavendish bananas each week and to recover losses as a result of China’s impounding of Philippine fruits.

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Since March, 1,500 container vans of Philippine bananas have been left to rot in Chinese ports due to China’s sudden implementation of stricter quarantine measures.

For Filipino banana producers to tap the government’s feeding program, they must first convince local government units (LGUs) and congressional district representatives, said Romeo Garcia, president of the Mindanao Federation of Banana Growers and Exporters Association.

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Garcia explained that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had already transferred P22 million of the program budget to the LGUs and lawmakers.

The feeding program for preschoolers is being implemented by the DSWD with the Department of Education  through the LGUs and lawmakers. Banana growers, with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), can make representations with local DSWD offices, Garcia said.

According to the DTI, the natural benefits and curative properties of bananas indicate that the fruit fits the government’s purpose in undertaking the feeding program. Bananas are rich in protein, carbohydrates, phosphorous, vitamin A and iron and help cure or prevent common diseases.

A stakeholders’ forum was convened here on Friday to discuss the proposed interventions prepared by the DTI in light of the glut in the weekly supply of bananas.

Garcia said they would not make profits from the plan because at a price of P129 per box, “it is break even.”

Aside from the feeding program, banana growers and exporters said they could also expand their market network through the trading posts already established by the DA in 80 barangays in Southern Mindanao.

“That would be expensive for the small growers, but the government may be able do something,” Garcia said, adding that the domestic freight cost for a 10-footer van with 600 boxes of banana fruits is P22,000.

This is much expensive than the shipping cost to foreign destinations. For Singapore, the cost would only be $200 for the same volume, he said.  Ayan C. Mellejor, Inquirer Mindanao

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