A party-list lawmaker has filed a bill seeking revitalize and strengthen the country’s banana industry.
Rep. Wilbert Lee of AGRI party-list group filed House Bill 6300, or the Banana Research and Export Act of 2022 amid the massive decline in the production of bananas in the country.
Lee cited the need to pursue research and development of the banana business for its sustainability. This, he said, in light of the fact that fresh bananas are widely in demand worldwide, and being the fourth most important agricultural commodity in developing countries.
“Undeniably, the banana industry contributes significantly to our national economy and serves as an important source of income for a big population of Filipino farmers,” Lee said.
“Our banana industry is a low-hanging fruit that needs to be picked up and provided with enough support from the government… Continuing research and development on this fruit and export product must be pursued for its sustainability and competitiveness,” he added.
Citing the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Lee said 90 percent of Asian banana exports originates in the Philippines, which ranks as the second leading global banana exporter worldwide. However, this 90 percent share fell to some 60 percent last year.
COVID-19 and the spread of the Panama disease were two of the leading factors behind the rapid decline of the country’s banana exports.
Lee noted that over the years, the banana business has faced several struggles, including poor infrastructure, pests and climate change. Increasing costs of equipment and worldwide inflation have also caused quite a problem for the production of bananas, while storms and maintenance costs led to the decline in domestic production, significantly affecting small-scale banana farmers.