PH to send trial banana shipment to Middle East this month

By Czeriza Valencia, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 02 2012 06:59 AM | Updated as of Aug 02 2012 10:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will begin this month trial shipments of Cavendish bananas to the Middle East and Italy, according to a recent report by the office of the agricultural attache to the Middle East.

In a report to director Leandro Gazmin of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, Agriculture attache to Dubai Gil Herico said that the Mindanao Banana Farmers and Exporters Association (MBFEA) is sending on Aug 10 this year a trial shipment of two 40-foot containers of Cavendish bananas to Al Sahba, a company based in Doha, Qatar.

Fineline Group Co. Inc. Is also scheduled to send a trial shipment of one 40 foot container to Italy on the last week of August.

Herico said in the report that there are plenty of trading opportunities for Philippine banana growers in the Middle East, particulary in Kurdistan, Iraq which has a population of more than 30 million.

“Our Philippine banana prices are very competitive in the South and midwest part of Iraq and to the northern part of Iraq, but needs efficient supply chain systems and infrastructure,” he said in the report dated July 20.

Along with deficiencies in the supply chain, local banana growers are also concerned with the occurence of the Sigatoka plant disease that causes the leaves of the banana plant to turn brown.

The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) has requested the DA to conduct an an aerial survey to determine the areas affected by the disease.

The group has also suggested the provision of subsidies for small banana growers.

Herico reported that aside from trade inquiries from the Middle East, other countries that have lately expressed interest in Philippine bananas include Russia, Ukraine, Austria, and Croatia.

The Philippine government is working on a schedule to bring the Iraqi importers to Davao to meet with Filipino banana exporters.