DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Despite the challenges brought about by natural calamities, Mindanao exported more than $3 billion in agricultural products in 2012, accounting for 60 percent of the country’s total agricultural exports, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) reported on Thursday.
Minda chair Luwalhati Antonino said the 16.7 percent export growth posted by Mindanao was more than double the 7.6 percent growth in exports posted by the whole country.
“Despite the challenges brought about by natural calamities, Mindanao managed to post positive international trade growth, an indication of the region’s strength and resilience,” Antonino said.
But it was not yet clear whether the figures took into account the losses inflicted by Typhoon Pablo in December 4 of last year. Some 3.5 million coconut trees were felled by the typhoon in Davao Oriental.
Antonino, in a statement, said Mindanao’s prospects for exports remain bright, with the emerging popularity of agri-based products such as cacao, coco sugar and coco water now beginning to attract international markets.
“Coconut copra and palm kernel remained as the top export products of the island-region last year, cornering almost US$1 billion, or 21.26 percent of Mindanao’s total exports,” Antonino said.
Since 2010, coconut has also consistently surpassed banana, the traditional export winner from Mindanao, she added.
The bulk of Mindanao’s coconut exports went to United States, Mindanao’s largest export market.
Banana exports, mostly from Southern Mindanao, made up 14.94 percent of Mindanao’s total exports last year; while other export products such as nickel ore, fruits, nuts, and semi-processed fish also registered positive growth.
To further boost exports, the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) is organizing the first Mindanao Exporters Congress next month to keep Mindanao exporters abreast with global trends.
“As Mindanao positions itself as a top player in processed food exports, we want to sustain the region’s performance, particularly for its agri-based products,” said Ferdinand Marañon, President of PhilExport XI.
“This congress also provides the venue for our exporters to share industry trends and technological innovations,” he said.
Over 400 players in the export industry chain, including farmers, producers, food processors, service provides, manufacturers, and government officials, are expected to join the event slated at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on August 1-3.
Maranon said Mindanao offers immense growth potential in agriculture, with the region fast becoming the country’s food basket and agri-processing hub.