DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 October) — President Rodrigo Duterte supported the call of the banana industry players to establish a Philippine Banana Industry Council and Banana Research and Development Center to address concerns besetting the industry, but not through an executive order.
At the National Banana Congress here last Friday, Duterte said he did not sign the executive order prepared by the industry leaders on the proposed council and research center, as he explained there is a need to have a law so that these will get sufficient funding.
“The proposed measure is the creation of a Banana Industry Development Council. Now it should be a law, I cannot give executive order. So, 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,” he said.
Ferdinand Marañon, President of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) 11 said the banana players decided to put up an interim body, composed of six private sector members and three representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and the local government unit, to push for the passage of the Philippine Comprehensive Banana Act of 2017.
A resolution was passed by the Banana Congress endorsing the establishment of a Philippine Banana Research and Development Center.
The resolution said the country’s banana industry is facing serious challenges that threaten its viability such as climate change, diseases including Fusarium Wilt, Black Sigatoka, Banana Bunchy Top and Moko; and competition from other banana-producing countries that are devoting much resources to research and development of better varieties and more efficient and advanced farm technologies.
“These threats can be proactively addressed through scientific researches, comprehensive studies on banana research and development processes and technology, crop protection, pest and diseases management and cultivar variety banking and-adding products from banana,” it said.
It said the research and development center is essential in providing scientific, technical and environmental-friendly technologies and processes to promote the development of the industry from pre-production to post-harvest and from farm to market.
The Philippine banana industry earns for the country P1.13 billion annually, provides livelihood for 503,058 farmers, producers/processors, the resolution said. More than half of the total area planted to banana is situated in Mindanao with 247,407 hectares out of the total 442,751.
Duterte also acknowledged the contribution of the agriculture sector to the economy of the country and the need to address the insurgency problem in the country to further the growth of the agriculture.
“Well, the greatest promise of the banana growers in the Philippines, for that matter, is really the law and order. Until and unless we can put together a country that’s the bereft of any revolutionary tax, extortion, and everything, isusunog iyong farm implements, it’s because of the taxation. If it’s not the taxation of the Communists, it’s the extortion of the roving bandits in Mindanao,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)