DAVAO CITY — The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA) has condemned the action of the Davao del Norte provincial government to clear the roads leading to banana plantations, which would have led to the destruction of biosecurity facilities.
In a press release Monday, PBGEA said the provincial government’s attempt last week to supposedly clear the entry leading to the farm of Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco), under a national program to clear roads and sidewalks from obstruction, threatened not just the farm of the Floirendo-owned company but also the entire industry.
PBGEA, through its chair, Alberto F. Bacani, said biosecurity facilities must not be considered a traffic obstruction.
“These should be seen as a protective measure which helps the community in its income generation,” said Mr. Bacani, adding that the removal of these facilities would mean “you destroy the people’s source of income.”
The PBGEA statement added that in areas where these facilities are absent, the dreaded Panama disease has thrived and resulted in the wiping out of about 2,400 hectares of banana plantations in the province.
This has also resulted in the shutting down of about 300 packing houses, it added.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show $1.38 billion worth of fresh bananas were exported last year, seventh among the county’s top 10 commodities.
PBGEA members account for about 50% of the total area planted to Cavendish, the export variety.
PBGEA Executive Director Stephen A. Antig said instead of exposing the industry to possible dangers, local governments should help protect one of the biggest contributors to the local economy.
“Their constituents are largely dependent on the banana industry for their livelihood. They should help the banana growers, and not interfere in their operations,” Mr. Antig said.
Last week, Gov. Edwin I. Jubahib ordered the road-clearing operation but was halted through the intercession of Mindanao Development Authority Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol and a temporary restraining order from a Regional Trial Court.
The provincial government wanted to remove the entry barriers that guide vehicles to tire dips and pedestrians to foot baths, which are intended to prevent the potential spread of diseases in the farm.
The Provincial Information, Communication, Knowledge and Management Office has yet to reply to BusinessWorld’s request for comment. — Carmelito Q. Francisco