National Banana Research Center now necessary — Lagdameo

April 18, 2013 10:19 pm 

QUEZON CITY, April 18 — In the aftermath of the typhoons and floods that hit Mindanao and other parts of the country, it is now time that a National Banana Research Center be established, Rep. Antonio F. Lagdameo Jr. proposed.

“The country’s banana industry is worth some US US$ 720-million annually, provides employment to about 240,000 workers and contributes P830-million in taxes to local government units,” Lagdameo (2nd District, Davao del Norte) pointed out.

The proposed research center is contained in HB 5478, authored by Lagdameo, to promote the socio-economic development of Southern Philippines and the country as a whole.

“The establishment of this research center must be pursued in the coming Congress because 13 out of the 26 provinces in the South, including Muslim areas, are dedicated to banana production,” Lagdameo said, adding that Mindanao is home to about 81 percent of the country’s banana production and generated export income largely from exports.

Noting data from the Mindanao Development Authority, the Davao del Norte lawmaker said the industry pays the 240,000 workers some P21 billion in wages each year and pays almost P900 million in taxes to local governments.

“The industry also pays almost P1 billion in local taxes each year for business permits, real estate taxes, and other fees on top of the P900 million in taxes paid by contractors and suppliers,” Lagdameo revealed.

The banana industry also supports 30,000 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) and small landowners under various contract-growing or lease arrangements, he added.

“The industry has suffered from the recent setbacks of economic embargo of the U.S. over Iran, El Niño phenomenon and the recurrence of the uncontrollable spread of Panama disease,” he said.

The Panama disease, also known as fusarium wilt, has been dormant for about 50 years, but a virulent strain has now reappeared in plantations in the Philippines, having spread from Australia to countries in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. This type of disease could also spread to other banana varieties, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of farmers in the country, Lagdameo pointed out.

The proposed research center is a specialized banana research entity, which shall be responsible for the conduct of comprehensive studies and scientific approaches to sustainable banana farming, he stressed.

“The establishment of a banana research center is the first concrete remedy towards addressing concerns such as prevention of diseases that infest banana fruit, improved farming techniques and post-harvest practices as well as the exploration of potential banana varieties,” Lagdameo concluded. (PNA)



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