Davao banana exporters eye wider market in Russia

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 October) – Banana exporters in the Davao Region are exploring opportunities to expand their market in Russia, a business leader said.

Edwin Sotto, Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) 11 executive director told MindaNews at the sidelines of Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw that some of the big banana players have been sending trial shipments to Russia for the last three to four years.

He said they are currently verifying the volume Russia could take but said “malaki ang (there’s a big) potential. The population of Russia is just a little less than China.”

“We have trial shipment already. We would like to look at the near future to ship on a regular basis to Russia,” he said.

Sotto said they are looking for other banana markets outside the Philippines’ existing international markets such as Japan, currently the biggest buyer of the country’s banana exports priced at US$277,272,187 in 2015, followed by China (US$157,499,048), South Korea (US$80,986,180), Iran (US$53,144,575), and United Arab Emirates (US$24,415,404).

He said the big players that are now doing trial shipments still have to ship their exports from the port in Davao City to China, then to Vladivostok, Russia’s major Pacific port located near the borders of China and North Korea.

He said the challenges of exporting to Russia have remained to be logistics and distance.

He said the country must open new routes to Russia in the event that banana exporters here will be shipping out on a regular basis to this new potential market.

He added these problems can be addressed if Congress passes the Comprehensive Development Act for the bananas, which would establish the National Banana Industry Development Council.

“It was no other than President Rodrigo R. Duterte who endorsed the process. He doesn’t like an executive order. He would prefer a congressional law that would create a National Banana Industry Development Council that would create the National Banana Research Center. An enabling law will take over the overall development of the banana industry,” he said.

In his May 19 courtesy call with then President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte, Russian Ambassador Igor A. Khovaev said they discussed fundamental and principal issues on developing bilateral relations between Russia and the Philippines.

The diplomat emphasized the need to create a Joint Trade Economic Cooperation Commission, to promote economic cooperation between the two countries.

He said they are interested in forging cooperation in other fields such as culture, agriculture, technology, and even sports.

“We, the Russians, are open to explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation in any fields,” he said.

On the shipment of Philippine tropical fruits, Khovaev said that it’s another interesting field to explore since the Russian market needs fruits grown from the tropical region.

“The export of tropical fruits to Russia, I think that’s a very interesting field. Russian market needs tropical fruits simply because tropical fruits are not produced in my country,” he said.

He mentioned banana, mango, and durian. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)