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Local banana industry, DA forge agreement

The meeting between the stakeholders of the banana industry and newly-installed Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar has resulted in agreement that both sides will push for the development of the industry
Stephen A. Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, said Saturday that Dar told them to contribute to the implementation of the roadmap of the industry, particularly in the setting up of a research center.

“He told us that the stakeholders should also contribute in (the implementation) of the research center similar (to the contribution of) the coconut levy,” Antig told TIMES, pointing out that Dar suggested to create a small group that will discuss the component of the industry roadmap.

He added the Agriculture secretary also committed that he will look into the challenges that the local industry is facing in relation to the minimum residue limit (MRL) of chemicals in Japan.

The issue came out after the Japanese government decided to implement an order early this year that would compel a 100% MRL test on bananas from the Philippines following the report that some exporters breached the limit.

In a press conference on Saturday, Dar confirmed that he agreed to help the industry, but added that the two big groups, the PBGEA and the so-called small growers, must also join hands and help in solving the problem.

“They (all banana stakeholders) have to work as one (through the) concept of big brother small brother working together,” he said, adding that if this is done, then the government is ready to help.
He added that among his commitments is also “to recast this roadmap, anchored on `masaganang ani, at mataas na kita’.”

He also said he tasked the stakeholders to “identify their research agenda that will be turned into a research program, their priority because the government does not have surplus money,” as he wants the industry to shell out 50% of the need for the research and the research center, with the remainder coming from the government.

He said he has also hired as adviser Dr. Agustin B. Molina Jr., who was among those helping in the research for better banana cultivars, to help the industry in solving its problems, particularly the Fusarium wilt, or Panama disease.

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