DAVAO CITY – A one-stop shop laboratory facility worth P100 million will soon be constructed in Bago Oshiro in Tugbok District here which is expected to augment their drive against agricultural diseases.
Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol said the laboratory will handle plant disease, animal disease, water and soil analysis that will benefit even the banana industry.
Piñol said the banana industry has largely been left on its own in dealing with problems on plant diseases, tenurial issues and even extortion by rebel groups.
The agriculture chief added that the banana industry pays the government over P6-B annually in taxes, with a total of P150 billion worth of investments and employed 540,000 workers.
“The Philippines is the No. 1 producer of Cavendish banana for export to the different countries in Asia and has captured 95% of the market. A seven-month drought and plant health issues like the Panama Disease has affected the industry, pulling down the banana earnings to only about $400-M last year,” he said.
The Fusarim wilt or Panama disease meantime has already affected 15,700 hectares of banana plantations in Davao Region according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) 11.
Piñol said President Rodrigo R. Duterte supported the creation of an Banana Industry Development Council that will oversee the development, research and marketing of Philippine bananas, considered as the second biggest foreign currency earner of the country, next to coconut.
The Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMARRDEC) conducted a four-year study from April 2012 to March 2016 on Cavendish bananas to treat and control Fusarium-wilt in a two-hectare field testing in Monkayo and Nabunturan in Compostela Valley. (Antonio L. Colina IV)