Blight is rampant! Large number of plantations in Davao, Philippines abandon banana planting

At least 150 banana growers in Davao del Norte province have abandoned bananas in favor of corn due to plantations infected with Panama disease, according to the Philippine News Agency.

Banana wilt, commonly known as Panama disease, is a fatal fungal disease caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium acnes. The disease is highly contagious and destructive and is difficult to manage effectively, with infected areas causing a large number of banana plantations to be abandoned, lost or converted. Philippine banana exports have continued to decline in recent years as plantations have been affected by the spread of the blight.

Total banana exports plunged to 2.273 million tons in 2022, reaching the lowest level in the past six years, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Philippine banana exports to all major markets contracted last year, with exports to Japan, the largest market, declining slightly to 919,510.537 tons from 929,917.582 tons and to China, down 8.4 percent to 831,642.276 tons from 907,536.537 tons.

The Philippine banana industry had sought advice from experts in Israel, China and South Korea, but there is still no good way to overcome the blight. The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) is hoping that the Philippine Congress will quickly pass a bill to establish a banana research center to focus on banana production problems, one of which is to curb the spread of the blight.

PBGEA estimates that of the total banana cultivation area of 88,000 hectares, about 15,000 to 36,000 hectares, or 17 to 40 percent of the total area, are infested with the blight. Small and medium-sized banana producers, who once made up half of the Philippine banana industry, are now the most affected by the blight, and PBGEA Executive Director Stephen A. Antig warned that without research centers to firm up blight-resistant banana varieties, Philippine bananas will be in an even worse state in five years.

Source: International Fruit and Vegetable Report

Post time: Mar-13-2023