Exports of Philippine Cavendish may surpass the record in 2018 amid the ongoing struggles attributed by Panama disease. The data obtained from Philippine Statistics Authority showed that banana shipments reached 2.5 MMT in seven months, which is 50 percent higher than last year’s 1.661 MMT.
This year’s average monthly exported Philippine Cavendish banana amounted to 350,000 MT, almost 48 percent higher than last year’s 237,285 MT. If the said shipment continues towards the end of the year, a record high of 4.25 MMT can be attained which surpass the biggest export volume of 3.631 MMT in 2014.
Despite the increasing export, Virgelio Gutierrez, a science research specialist of the DA-Davao Regional Crop Protection Center, projected that affected areas of Panama disease will become bigger because many plantations are near the rivers.
“The rain in recent months has caused flooding in certain areas in Davao Region and they fear that this may have further spread the disease in other plantations.when it rains and the river overflows, this may cause flooding, which could serve as a carrier of the Panama disease”, Gutierrez said.
On the other hand, Gutierrez stated in the Sunstar report that 69.9% of the total affected areas of Panama disease in Davao Region (10,807 hectares) are owned by smallholder farmers.
As of 2015, a total of 15,507 hectares suffered from Panama disease.
According to the report from Sunstar, “Davao del Norte was the hardest hit with 13,743 has., followed by Compostela Valley (1,082 has.), Davao del Sur (436 has.), Davao City (209 has.), and Davao Oriental (36 has.).”
Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA), said that “the areas affected by the TR4 continues to spread. However, because of the advances in technology we were able to develop ways to contain its spread.”
Respectively, the distribution of Trichoderma and provision of GCTCV 219/218 are the major interventions in solving the problem caused by the Panama disease.
The Trichoderma is known as a bio-control agent which will be applied after burning the affected areas.
“Trichoderma is a fungus that covers the spores of the fusarium,” Gutierrez explained.
“The GCTCV 219/218 are claimed to be resistant varieties against the Panama Disease. However, the resistant variety is struggling to gain the full support of both the market and the farmers,” Sunstar report said.
Outlook on PHL Cavendish
Interestingly, PBGEA is willing to fund studies that eradicate and control fusarium wilt.
“If there is someone who comes forward with a probable solution to the fusarium wilt, there could be a PBGEA member who will be willing to help finance the research,” Antig said.
On top of that, Philippine Banana Industry Roadmap emphasized that the government should invest at least Php 1.215 billion annually to increase the competitiveness of local farmers against American and Southeast Asian counterparts.
The roadmap was created by the Department of Agriculture and the banana sector. The funding aims to mitigate Panama disease in order to maintain high-quality bananas.
Apart from the Panama disease, the access to key markets should also be intensified.
To date, China is the top export market of the Philippine Cavendish which outgrown the demand of Japan.