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Philippine bananas still world’s best|
Manila, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has assured importers that Philippine bananas continue to be the tastiest and safest globally, telling them that Chinese allegations about containers of the fruit sent to China were crawling with insects still have to be proven beyond scientiﬁc doubt.
Alcala stressed this in a hurried press brieﬁng at the Davao City wharf on Tuesday night, minutes after concluding a meeting with officials of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) and small growers.
He explained that the Chinese claim will be analyzed by a team of experts led by Dr. Clarito Barron, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), who will also present to his Chinese counterpart the RP Plant Quarantine Protocol.
“We want to make sure that Philippine bananas exported to China are free from insects,” Alcala stressed during the dialogue with the banana growers.
Alcala joined President Aquino during the People’s Organizations Congress sponsored by DA’s Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) in Davao City.
Aquino keynoted the event, which was attended by 1,500 farmers, ﬁsherfolk, rural women, and indigenous peoples who are recipients of MRDP livelihood projects.
“We will also invite Chinese quarantine officials to visit the Philippines, particularly banana farms in Davao, and see for themselves respective treatment and packing operations,” the DA chief said.
Quarantine officials earlier expressed surprise at the Chinese claim about scale insects teeming in 61 containers of bananas, noting that no complaint about similar infestation was ever heard from Japan, a major buyer of Philippine bananas.
Norlito Agduyeng, technical director for Region 11 and acknowledged as a leading expert on banana pests, said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been making progress against the black sigatoka virus and working against Fusarium wilt, the major enemies of bananas. (Marvyn N. Benaning)