DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /09 October) — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced that his department will establish a one-stop-shop laboratory facility worth P100-million in Bago Oshiro in Tugbok District here.
In a statement posted on the secretary’s Facebook page Saturday, Piñol said the laboratory will handle plant disease, animal disease, water and soil analysis.
He singled out the banana industry, which “has largely been left on its own in dealing with problems on plant diseases, tenurial issues and extortion by rebel groups” despite earning the country over P6-B annually in terms of taxes.
“The Philippines is the No. 1 producer of Cavendish banana for export to the different countries in Asia and has captured 95% of the market. A seven-month drought and plant health issues like the Panama Disease has affected the industry, pulling down the banana earnings to only about $400-M last year,” he said.
Fusarium-wilt or Panama Disease has affected a total of 15,700 hectares of banana plantations in Davao Region, the Department of Agriculture said.
Piñol said investments of major players in the industry have totaled P150 billion, generating about $1 billion a year and employing 540,000 workers.
He said President Duterte has also supported the creation of an agency that will oversee the development, research and marketing of Philippine bananas, considered the second biggest foreign currency earner of the country, next to coconut.
“The President told banana industry stakeholders gathered in the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang in Davao City that he favors a law enacted by Congress over a proposed Executive Order which called for the creation of a Banana Development Council,” he said.
In his message on the second day of the Banana Congress 2016 last Friday, Duterte said he did not sign the executive order prepared by the participants because he wants a law passed in Congress so that it would get better support from the government.
“The proposed measure is the creation of a Banana Industry Development Council. Now it should be a law. I cannot give executive order.. because if you need something, money or otherwise, if you need government to intervene – the legal standing has to be something like there is a law, the force of law in the creation of the banana research Institute,” the President said.
The Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMARRDEC) conducted a four-year study from April 2012 to March 2016 on Cavendish bananas in a two-hectare field testing in Monkayo and Nabunturan in Compostela Valley.
Sheryl S. Bayang, former research assistant of DOST-Pcaard, said that study was composed of three project components such as “Adaptability trial for seven GCTCV somaclones against Fusarium wilt”; “Development of Biological Control Strategies against FocTR4”; and “Assessment and Distribution of Fusarium wilt incidence in Mindanao.”
As a result of the first phase, she said the SMARRDEC discovered that the GCTCV 218 and 219 from Taiwan Banana Research Institute have resistance to FocTR4 (Fusarium oxyporum cubense Tropical Race 4), the pathogen that causes the Fusarium Wilt.
She said they also tested the effectiveness of the use of biological controls agents and found that the trichoderma and MykoVAM have significant effect in preventing infestation of Fusarium Wilt.
Piñol has also reiterated the Duterte administration’s commitment to implement reforms in the quarantine regulations to lessen the “bureaucratic red tape and prevent corruption.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)