Local grower donates bananas to Tagum schools
TAGUM CITY, Philippines – A banana-producing company has decided to donate some of its bananas to various schools here instead of exporting them to China where the authorities have imposed stricter phytosanitary requirements since March.
Edwin Lasquite, Tagum City’s information officer, said on Monday that the local government started distributing some 2,500 boxes of Class A Cavendish bananas donated to the public schools here by exporter Lapanday Food Corp.
“Students here are literally going bananas,” Lasquite said, describing the reaction of students on receiving the fruit.
Lasquite said the donation of the bananas gave the students a taste of Cavendish bananas, grown here mostly for export.
“The bananas were the same fruit not exported to China after the stricter regulations,” he said.
Lasquite said Mayor Rey Uy planned to acquire refrigerated vans to prolong the shelf life of the bananas.
Stephen Antig, president of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Asssociation (PBGEA), said banana producers have been reeling from the effects of China’s stricter quarantine requirements, whose imposition coincided with heating up of the Philippine-Chinese dispute over the Panatag Shoal.
Because of the new Chinese requirements, Antig said, bananas were left rotting along roadsides.
China buys about 30 percent of the country’s bananas.
“It’s not that the Chinese traders don’t want our bananas, but they are helpless with their own government regulation,” Antig told the Inquirer.
Last month, the regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry in Southern Mindanao, which hosts many large banana plantations, suggested that instead of relying on the China market, the banana companies should develop the local market.
The DTI said that the banana companies could tap the government’s nutrition program to distribute their produce in schools in the region. The DTI pointed out that bananas are rich in nutrients and could help boost the health of malnourished children.