BY NEIL JEROME C. MORALES, Reporter
RP gets provisional approval to export fresh bananas to US mainland
Washington D.C. has given Manila preliminary approval to export fresh banana pending measures for Manila to address the quarantine of banana pests, the Philippines’ Agriculture department said in a press release on Friday.
"The [United States’ Department of Agriculture, or USDA] move brings us one step closer to our goal of providing our local banana growers the opportunity to penetrate the lucrative US mainland market," the statement quoted Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap as saying.
Last month, the USDA sent to the local Agriculture department its risk assessment report on Philippine fresh banana.
Mr. Yap, who accompanied President Gloria M. Arroyo in a week-long working visit that ended August 5, said this development highlights the government’s target of increasing farm output and farmers’ incomes by expanding and exploring markets for the agriculture produce.
The report said the US allowed the entry of fresh banana to the US continental mainland, including Alaska, if mitigating measures are put in place to address 14 quarantined pests the USDA identified.
Some of the identified pests may not be present in the Philippines or does not attack hard green banana, the Agriculture department’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said in a report to the USDA.
Pests identified by the USDA include the banana rasp snail, red palm Mite, two-spotted mite, banana root borer, banana aphid and the mealybug.
The USDA will develop the risk management measures, using its risk assessment report in consultation with the BPI.
Manila asked Washington in December 2005 to allow fresh banana exports to the US mainland, as well as to Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands in September 2007, BPI Director Joel S. Rudinas said in the statement.