SAN Juan Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada asked President Benigno Aquino III to increase the loan amount that may be availed by banana farmers who incurred losses due to the destruction caused by typhoon Pablo in major banana-producing provinces in Mindanao.
Ejercito Estrada made the appeal after the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) noted that P430,000 per hectare loan package offered by Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) is not enough to rehabilitate devastated banana farms.
PBGEA pegged the rehabilitation cost of devastated banana plantations at P600,000 per hectare. This amount, the group said, excludes the construction of packing houses and irrigation systems.
“I hope President Aquino will heed the call of banana growers in Mindanao. Our banana growers need an assistance package that would enable them to immediately recover from the devastation caused by typhoon Pablo,” said the young lawmaker.
He also said the government should streamline the application process for banana farmers so they can easily access loans from LBP.
The San Juan solon noted that the P2.1-billion assistance for banana farmers announced by the Department of Agriculture (DA) is not enough considering that the typhoon wreaked havoc on 25,907 hectares of banana plantations and destroyed 154,446 metric tons (MT) of crops valued at P7.44 billion.
Ejercito Estrada also asked the Aquino administration to consider the provision of financial assistance for the subsistence of banana farmers since they will not have a major source of income for at least one year. This is because it would take about six months to one year to rehabilitate devastated banana plantations.
He said the government must immediately assist banana farmers so the Philippines will not lose foreign buyers of bananas to other producers abroad.
The DA noted that the Davao Region in Mindanao is the world’s third biggest banana producer.
January 29, 2013