The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) estimates that 19 storms enter the country; of these 6 to 9 make landfall. This makes it challenging for businesses when storms disrupt operations and wreak havoc in the country.
This is true for the agriculture industry. A tough year for the banana market has become even tougher in the wake of Typhoon ‘Pablo’ (international name: Bopha) which left at least 10,000 hectares of banana plantations in ruins.
Stephen Antig, executive director of Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), said that the figures that their members have reported as of Thursday morning has already reached 10,000 hectares, some members are still accounting for the havoc brought about by ‘Pablo’.
PBGEA is the umbrella group of Cavendish exporting banana companies. “If we translate this to value, it’s about P5.7 billion worth of harvest for the year end. It’s a pretty expensive opportunity lost for the industry,” Antig said. “But if we include the infrastructure that would shoot up to P8 billion.”
To fully rehabilitate the hectares upon hectares of banana plantations would take months and another nine months before another harvest season can be expected from the area. “The average cost of rehabilitation for one hectare is P500,000.00 and it will cost us P5 billion to rehabilitate our plantations in the area,” Antig said.
Aside from the damage caused by ‘Pablo’ Antig said that he fears the floods might actually spread the Panama Disease and deem a lot of areas not suitable for replanting.
‘Plea for help’
The banana industry has been struggling the whole year with the sudden restrictions imposed by China early this year, the foreign exchange embargo on Iran, and the attack of Panama Disease in several plantations.
“We need the help of the government now like never before. We need to help the communities that depend on the plantations recover just as fast,” Antig said, adding that there is an estimated 150,000 people who are depending on the banana industry in Compostela Valley alone.
“We, the companies and the communities, cannot get out of this rut without the help of the government,” Antig said.