Mindanao banana growers’ losses exceed P1B
DAVAO CITY— Banana growers in Compostela Valley and other areas of Southern Mindanao have suffered losses of over P1 billion during the past months due to the damage wreaked by Typhoon Pablo on the region’s banana plantations last December, an industry official said.
“Losses to banana exporters (alone) due to Pablo have exceeded P1 billion,” Bing de los Reyes of the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association said.
De los Reyes said the losses arose from growers’ inability to meet delivery commitments to such prime markets as the United States for about half a year now as about 40 percent of Southern Mindanao’s 14,732 hectares of banana plantations were destroyed by the typhoon.
Government data showed that the inability of Compostela Valley alone to produce large quantities of reduced the region’s total production by 16 percent. Compostela Valley accounts for 14 percent of the region’s total banana production.
“We have been forced to stop shipments to some areas,” De los Reyes said.
De los Reyes said most devastated areas have since been replanted but the new plants need time to mature and become productive.
The situation, De los Reyes said, could persist for a few more months, and people who depend on the industry for their daily sustenance, mostly plantation workers, would be direly affected.
Earlier, another group of exporters, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters’ Association, said that in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental “almost all banana plantations were wiped out, rendering many people out of work.”
Alex Viloria, PBGEA president, said the cost of rehabilitating damaged areas was so huge that many planters had difficulty replanting.
“It would cost banana companies P500,000 to rehabilitate one hectare or maybe even higher as some of the plantations were totally wiped out, hence, they had to start from scratch,” he said in a previous interview.
Viloria said the association has asked the government to put up a P7.5-billion recovery fund.
“It takes 8 to 10 months to rehabilitate the banana plantations, but the problem is how soon can small farmers start rehabilitating? Since it still takes 8 to 10 months, how can a small farmer sustain it? What will he eat while waiting for the plants to rehabilitate?” Viloria said.
Bernadette Toledo, chief executive officer of the Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies–Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative Center (Mass-Specc), said one of their member-cooperatives had a total of 1,000 hectares of banana plants damaged.
Gloria Steele, country mission director of the United States Agency for International Development, said Washington had made available P201 million for the rehabilitation of banana plantations in the region.
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