Banana exporters, growers suffer losses due to fusarium wilt

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DAVAO CITY — The Cavendish banana exporters and growers in Mindanao have voiced concerns over rising production losses as fusarium wilt disease continues to affect the industry, add to that the adverse impact of changing weather conditions.

Gladys Garcia, managing director of Mindanao Banana Farmers Exporters Association (MBFEA), said a large area of Cavendish banana farms have already been abandoned particularly in Sto. Tomas, Kapalong, Asuncion, Panabo in Davao del Norte and Calinan, Davao City, due to spread of fusarium wilt.

Aside from the disease, Garcia said growers are also affected by the dry season and the recent heavy rains.

“We need water but we were also affected by excessive water,” Garcia said during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM Davao Annex.

She said around 20,000 to 25,000 hectares are still active Cavendish bananas production areas. The adverse factors, she said, has led to declining output and exporters risk of not meeting the demand of their market abroad.

Garcia also voiced concern that MBFEA members that have low to zero production have already retrenched workers.

MBFEA, which has 30 active exporters and 1,000 growers, markets large volume of Cavendish bananas to the People’s Republic of China. It has also other markets in Southeast Asia.

Garcia said that before MBFEA members suffer further production losses, the group is already exploring other areas outside of Davao Region that has available underground water sources and free from fusarium wilt disease. MBFEA is also looking for partnerships for opening access to underground water.

Others members, she said, have already resorted to the planting of other crops that cannot be infected by fusarium wilt. Garcia said the government should take positions to prevent the spread of fusarium wilt and protect the Cavendish banana industry since it contributes billions of pesos to the Philippine economy.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease which causes the death of banana plants. The disease continually threatens the popular Cavendish cultivar, ‘Grand Nain,’ which is exported by numerous companies in Mindanao. PNA

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