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The banana stakeholders said that the affected bulk is minimal and that it was an isolated case, however they emphasized that necessary measure shall be undertaken in order that this will not happen again.

?If we look at it, it is entirely normal in business and trading but we cannot brush off the fact that if this will happen often it will truly affect our export performance as China is one of top export market for bananas, so we want to address the issue this early in order not to escalate the problem,? Emerson U. Palad, DA Undersecretary for operations and agribusiness project development said during the DA?s Banana Stakeholders Forum press conference Thursday at the Pinnacle Hotel-Davao.

The four actions to be undertaken by the agriculture department together with the banana stakeholders as agreed upon during the forum are (1) an audit team will inspect the two farms based in Davao and Bukidnon where the rejected ?substandard? bananas reportedly came from starting this Monday, April 4, (2) a technical team headed by the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will visit China for a Government-to-Government (G2G) transaction.

Also, plans are on hand of conducting a (3) comprehensive forum with an active participation of banana growers and farmers to discuss different issues and concerns in the industry and (4) lastly a roadmap/ master plan is set to be drafted for the development of the industry.

This developed, as Customs authorities in the Chinese city of Shenzhen destroyed last March 26 a total of 34.78 metric tons of bananas exported from the Philippines. This figure is estimated as equal to only two containers or around 2,700 boxes with a value estimated at P1.4 million Free On Board (FOB).

?The roadmap is eyed to be fully drafted within the next two months after the series of meeting, basically it is a long-term comprehensive strategic plan on how can we maintain our stand in the existing export markets and how can we penetrate and diversify our export markets,? Leandro H. Gazmin, Assistant secretary for agribusiness, said.

When asked if China will stop importing bananas from the Philippines, DA officials said that it would have a big effect in the Philippine economy as China is one of the biggest export market of this export commodity.

?But that is far to happen as China needs our bananas, our safeguard is to fix our industry, quality and quantity should be looked at properly so that we could continue our export to existing markets and enter new and potential markets, we really need to shape up,? Palad said.

Noel D. de Luna, an agricultural attach? said that we are exporting some $150 million worth of bananas annually to China. Other agricultural products that the Philippines is exporting to China are pineapple ($15 million), mangoes and papayas. Paz J. Benavidez II, BPI director and Assistant secretary for planning and project development said that the MRL requirement of China is at 0.1. The reported rejected bananas are said to be at 0.19 MRL, exceeding a total of 0.09 pesticide level.

Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Export Marketing Bureau director Senen Perlada, in a separate interview said that during quality control inspection, DTI is following the rules of the World Trade Organization regarding sanitary and phytosanitary inspection.??



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