By Manny Piñol
Tokyo, Japan – In formal ceremonies today at the Prince Tower Tokyo Hotel, President Rody Duterte witnessed the signing of an agreement between a Japanese company and the Department of Agriculture for the supply of 20 million boxes of Cavendish bananas to the Japanese market every year.
The deal, which was made possible with the help of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, is expected to earn for the country an estimated P5-B every year.
The signing of the agreement will mark the start of the development of about 7,000 hectares of banana farms which the Japanese company, Farmind Corp., would like to be located in former conflict areas in the Southern Philippines.
The project is estimated to result in a direct employment of 14,000 farm workers and many more in direct employment in other ancillary services.
The Farmind Corp. project is really aimed at providing livelihood opportunities for rebel returnees and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program.
This project was referred to me by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez right after I assumed office as Secretary of Agriculture.
The deal was among those signed during President Duterte’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he discussed economic and defense concerns with Japanese leaders.
Speaker Alvarez referred to me the proposed project two months ago and I received a briefing from his staff on the intention of Farmind president Tatstuo Horiuchi to provide livelihood agrarian reform beneficiaries, as well as former rebels, to support the President’s peace efforts.
“I asked him if he could help the Philippines, especially the CARP [Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program] beneficiaries, the rebel returnees, if they could commit to buy quite a number of fruits coming from the Philippines at a good price,” Alvarez told reporters in Tokyo.
Philippine bananas dominate the Japanese market supplying as much as 90% of the total requirements but in recent years, bananas from Ecuador have penetrated Japan.
Currently, the Philippines only holds 75% of the banana supply in Japan and this is mainly because the low prices of oil have allowed Ecuador to bring its bananas to Japan at a lower transport cost.
The entry of the Farmind supply contract, however, will once again allow the Philippines to dominate the Japan market.
THE PHILIPPINES now has an answer to Bangkok’s Saphan Kao and Chatuchak markets, Malaysia’s Jalan Imbi, and Indonesia’s Jakarta Fruit Market with opening of Davao City’s Asian Fruit Market last Saturday, June 25, at the fountain area of Abreeza Mall.
Initiated by the Department of Tourism in partnership with the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Authority and Accendo Commercial Corporation, the owning company of Abreeza Mall, the Asian Fruit Market is primed to become Asia’s largest fruit market in the next 10 years.
“Sometime last year, tourism assistant secretary Arturo Boncato shared with us the idea of having a fruit market. We got excited that we immediately jump on board. This project is our humble contribution to the region’s tourism industry,” said Abreeza mall manager Luigi Escano.The idea of having a fruit market was conceived when tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. asked DOT regional director Roberto Alabado on what tourists would normally bring back home when they visit Davao.
Converting Sabah as one of the country’s food basket is not a bad deal, especially when it is already incorporated in our hala-tuju. due to abundance of agricultural and fishery resources.
We can make banana as one of the states largest earners of foreign currency among agri commodities in the country. Philippine is the 2nd largest export after Equador and exporting over 2.0million tonnes of bananas and earned USD471mil in 2011.. Japan accounts for half of the Philippine banana exports, most of which are of the cavendish variety sold under the brand names of CHIQUITA, DOLE AND DEL MONTE.
The supply chains for the Cavendish variety have already been developed and Dole has invited us to share this channel. Commercial farms must be equipped with packing houses where the product is packed in plastic bags and cartons and then shipped to ports in reefer containers. Banana plantations are labour intensive, requiring 2 workers per hactare, and expansion of Cavendish banana plantations at Pulau Bangi would contribute to mass employment there and from the surroundings of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas areas.
There is also potential for expansion of markets for banana products and byproducts. For example, processing of banana chips and fried bananas by small-scale processors for domestic consumption could be promoted.
so far none of the Asian countries except the Philippine export a large vol of bananas, altho the production of India (30mil tonnes being the largest) and China (10mil tonnes). Out of the total world exports (18 mil tonnes or 12% of the total world production in 2012) the top 5 countries accounted for two-thirds of this amount (Equador 5mil mt, Philippines 2mil mt, and 3 other latin countries bat 1.5 to 2.0 mil each.
The Phil exports 1 mil mt to Japan, China 0.5 mil mt, Korea and UAE 0.3mil mt, Iran and Saudi 0.1mil mt. Most bananas that Japan imports are from th Philippines. Itochy Corpn, the owner of Dole International holdings, Inc, has estimated that in the next 5 years, the growth rate of banana consumption would be over 7% per annum. That is why Banana is the fastest selling fruits in the world. NOW DOLE WISHES TO INCREASE ITS BANANA PURCHASE FROM SABAH since it is located away from the typhoon zone. This info is open to all Malaysians with the following pre qualifying conditions:
1. 5,000 ha of land duly inspected by Dole before any planting can commence
2. Exhibiting fiduciary capabilities amounting to USD8,100 per acre for the next 5 years.
Interested parties may write in to the secretariat of bebc for more info .
The best news is with the first 5000 ha, KK port will be handling export containers amounting to 14,000 – 15,000 x 40 footer reefer containers per 8 months and this augurs well for Sabah Ports in its desire to turn Sepanggar Container Port into a transhipment hub.
And if we plant 10,000 ha, our export container will be raised to 28,000 – 30,000 x 40 footer containers or roughly 3,750 containers per month. now this is something to ponder.
SABAH BOLIH BA!
Roselan J. Mohamed
THE WORKERS SYNDROME: just a feeling I want to share.
Today, my construction site was raided and 67 of my workers were detained. I will never know when I can see my workers again. They are good workers, very skilful and very disciplined. We pay them slightly above market rates in order we get to complete on time. Now I am stucked and stunned. My scheduled completion has to be pushed forwards and I have to make new recruitments. And new recruitments has never been easy.
On one hand we try to bring construction costs down just to make our prices affordable because this is what the Government wants us to do but on the other hand the central Government is imposing wanton levies on workers which will definitely increase our costs and we have to reappraise our selling prices beyond the average means; no longer affordable!
Now this is the problem. For umpteen years, these levies has been the scorned of many in Sabah and I would love to see the days when Sabah could decide her own destiny. The present state Government has been eco-friendly, user-friendly and we all love to live and work in Sabah. But the present levy has been designed and implemented by the high-income group of Capitol Hill and which definitely is not suited for the low-income group of the east. Yes we all want to be in the higher income group and this levy thing should be decided by the eastern brother who will definitely know what needs to be done: massive reduction for equitable growth.
Sabah is so very fortunate to be surrounded by countries of many many millions of workers who are just too eager to cross over. In the 90s, we tried very hard to block them from coming. But in 2015, we tried to welcome them with open hearts and open arms. We treat each worker with respect and dignity and will want to hold them as long as we possibly can.
I can only hope and pray.
If you go for massive agri programs, I think you will need anything between 20,000 for bananas and 240,000 for corns. That levy will kill you and you must go for consultation with the State Government first. Getting State involvement is best because government don’t pay government workers levy. Check it out.
Davao City – Businessmen and officials from Mindanao and Sabah, Malaysia explored possible joint-venture collaborations in agribusiness, tourism, logistics and the manufacturing sector during the recent strategic planning meeting of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East ASEAN (BIMP-EAGA) growth area at the Marco Polo Hotel here.
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) described the business-to-business meeting between traders of two countries as a major step toward further strengthening business and trade relations among member nations of BIMP-EAGA.
“We welcome this initiative from the business sector of Sabah, since this will greatly contribute to our efforts of enhancing trade and investments within BIMP-EAGA,” said MinDA Undersecretary Janet Lopoz.sabah
Lopoz added that the visit was a great opportunity for Mindanao traders and businessmen to showcase their local products to their EAGA counterparts.
Lopoz reported that more than 20 business representatives from Mindanao met with the 25 Sabah counterparts and discussed potential areas for collaboration particularly in banana production, halal restaurant, coffee shop franchising, logistics, tourism, construction, and other agriculture-based commodities.
“We expect succeeding business sessions to take place within the year to allow for the finalization of partnerships and joint ventures that were developed from these business-matching sessions,” Lopoz further explained.
A businessman from Palawan also joined the meetings to explore partnerships in tourism development between Palawan and Sabah.
Lopoz said that Mindanao and Palawan are the two focus areas of the Philippines in the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional grouping.
The delegation from Sabah was led by Datuk Roselan Johor Mohamad, the BIMP-EAGA Business Council Chairman who encouraged more business groups from the sub-region to actively participate in inter-EAGA business ventures.
Johor Mohamad said that EAGA’s private sector plays the crucial role of stirring the sub-region’s business climate.