Banana growers in Mindanao lose $318M

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02:15 AM December 7th, 2012

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December 7th, 2012 02:15 AM

Cavendish bananas from Mindanao. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Philippines, the world’s third largest exporter of bananas, lost a quarter of its crop in Typhoon “Pablo,” an industry group said Thursday, adding that it has also likely spread a destructive pest.

The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association said Pablo would also cost the industry $318 million.

Executive director Stephen Antig said the typhoon destroyed 10,000 hectares of the country’s 42,000 ha of banana farms.

The hurricane-force winds and flash floods flattened wide swathes of the hillsides of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, the center of the industry, he added.

Antig said there were fears that the floods might have spread Panama disease, which prevents the plant from bearing any fruit before eventually killing it.

The bug then renders the affected areas unsuitable for replanting.

About 150,000 people depend on the banana industry in Compostela Valley alone.

The Philippines likely lost P8 billion in ruined harvests and damaged facilities, Antig said, while rehabilitating farms would take several months and likely cost another P5 billion.

It would then take nine months after the replanting to reap the next harvest.

The state census office said the Philippines shipped $471 million worth of the fruit last year—accounting for 1 percent of total exports.

The typhoon is the latest blow to the Philippines’ banana industry, which was embroiled in a row this year with major market China over alleged pests on shipments that left tons of the fruit to rot at Chinese ports.

Antig said the industry was also hit by the international foreign exchange embargo on Iran, and an attack of Panama disease on some plantations.   AFP

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