Lack of cooperation haunts fruit industry in Mindanao

Roy told MindaNews in an interview Tuesday the industry could not respond to the demands of the local and the international market because without cooperation, they cannot come up with volume.

He clarified that industry could not optimize the business opportunities that come their way because of this limitation.

He said the market demands from each individual player if they are capable of supplying a certain volume and if they can ship whole year round.

He explained the demand requires from the small players to pool their resources together to respond to capture the markets or lose the chance to more prepared suppliers here and abroad.

He compared the capacity of the fruit industry to the multinational players which own farms or contract growers. He said they have systematic flow from production, processing, to delivery of their products. 

Roy said the industry needs to consolidate to capture demands from the market for bigger and year round supply of fruits and processed goods.

He said Mindanao's fruit industry stakeholders are capable of supplying bigger markets if only they consolidate.  

He said the primary concern at the moment is how to overcome the hurdles to consolidate, Roy told reporters between takes at the taping of the Talk Mindanao television program Tuesday where he joined representatives from the country's cold chain industry. 

Roy, however, still sees as "very bright" the prospects for the industry in the next five years in Mindanao with the infusion of more investments both for fresh and processed fruits production.

Among the crucial tasks that has to be achieved via a consolidated industry is to create a composite group that will serve as a marketing arm.   

The marketing arm, he said, should be able to project the capacity of the whole industry and package schemes that benefit even producers of fruits such as pomelo, which is said to be seasonal.

He also said that aside from a consolidated corporate entity to market the industry in the domestic and international market, the organization can also provide growers and processors a bigger voice when it lobbies for government support.

He cited the problem of high cost of production inputs such as fertilizer, which is affecting profitability of the growers.

He cited a scheme for food processors and exporters to give fruit farmers such as the banana growers an option to become part of their business.

He said if farmers become part of the business they would most likely protect the interests of the business.

He also cited an opportunity for local farmers to attend Asia Fruit Logistica and exhibition in Thailand where they could benchmark local production.

He said the only advantage Thai stakeholders have over local producers is dedicated government support and consolidation.

Roy said helping boost the industry through consolidation would trickle down to small-scale farmers in the countryside.

Fruit production in the communities could help solve the problem of poverty and eventually unpeace in some conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.