Banana growers want PH, Japan officials resolve 'protocol issues'

By Digna Banzon

April 10 2019, 1:23 am Updated on November 29, 2023, 4:34 am

DAVAO CITY -- Banana industry players in Mindanao wants the Philippine government and Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to meet and resolve protocol issues surrounding the banana export industry.

In an interview on Tuesday, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig underscored the importance of the protocol issue, adding that this can only be done through government-to-government action.

Antig said the protocol issue was raised in August 2018 on Fipronil exceedance of the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) after Japan required 100 percent mandatory testing of Philippine bananas entering the country.

"The 100 percent mandatory testing delays the release of the bananas to the market," he said.

He said the issue remains unresolved despite the corresponding actions by concerned exporting companies when MHLW of Japan required the Department of Agriculture (DA), thru the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and Plant Quarantine Services (PQS), to submit the protocol for the export of fresh banana to Japan.

Antig said PBGEA wrote a letter to DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol on March 20 about Japan’s feedback that the interventions implemented by the BPI are not enough or not the ones required by Japan's MHLW.

He said that while they offered to facilitate a study tour, including meeting with the MHLW, the latter "will not entertain any meetings with PBGEA until the Philippine government, particularly the DA, shows concrete steps to address the MRL problem”.

Antig said the inaction of concerned government agency kept them in limbo, "as this problem has been there for the past eight months".

"Given this, the economic impact of the Philippine banana export industry will be a financial nightmare if the processing of imports will not be attended to and the fruits are left at the wharf or the warehouses for the duration of the Golden Week celebration," he added. (PNA)