I have been entertaining investors since last year and the most recent are from UK and Asia Pacific. They are not interested to see the corporate scenes in Makati. They rather see Davao. They asked me to accompany them in Davao Philippines. Inspite of flight delays, humid climate and inconvenient location, they enjured all the hassles just to see the banana plantations in Davao, packing facility and export potential. Upon seing it, they abruptly said, “WOW!” I was asked, “how come we found out about you and the banana plantation only now? ” They were amazed how big the plantation was, as big as a country.
And last week they returned in spite of the negative issues raised by a giant country to Philippine banana industry. It’s a mistake that many fruit growers only now realized that dealing to this nation is a big risk. Although many banana growers are losing hope because of the effects of the negative news brought about by rejection of a giant nation incidentally claiming part of Philippines as its territory. Believe it or not, the investors see differently with enthusiasm and big hopes for Philippine banana industry. They said I need to open my eyes and widen my horizon.
With the negative news being thrown to Philippine banana industry, I am receiving more buy inquiries now than before. They are mostly from Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and a few from South Indies, and some of them are investment proposals. They don’t see pest rather they see big opportunities and big return on investment. Philippine banana industry is still standing and I see a future in it.
It’s not a secret that Japan is the biggest importer of Philippine bananas and it is a fact that Japan is one of the strictiest importer. Japan should be the first to reject Philippine bananas if the pest issue is rampant and United Nation or World Health Organization should be the first to announce it, as what they did when they discover “sars” and “bird flu” in China and HK.
American and Japanese brand firms controlled and operate most of the plantation of bananas in the Philippines (e.g. Del Monte, Dole, Chiquita, Sumifru, etc.). These firms are in control of the industry since the early 1900. We know for a fact how strict US and Japan are and if you can visit, you won’t even be allowed to enter the plantation without being quarantined. These plantations is one of the well managed plantation in the world that is why Philippine bananas is more expensive than what you can get in South America, India and Africa. European clients told me the difference is found in taste and quality… Philippine bananas are proven deliciously sweeter and the quality is better.
Allow me to share my answer to one of my buyer’s question, …”how can you prove the other clients that the bananas have not been infected?”
1. No plantation in the world have zero pest that’s why the government in cooperation with big brand firms and growers are in partnership as prevention is better than cure.
But since banana plantation in the Philippines are majority controlled by American and Japanese firms, they put investments to make sure that pest are controlled. And if there is, I can assure you that it is just an isolated case and the government has identified where it is. We are all warned of the location so we don’t get our supplies on those pinpointed region.
2. Identified safe zone and reputable farms passes through regular inspection and will not be granted cerfitication if they do not pass criteria:
a. All banana trees have label or tag for inventory. Growers and Inspectors know easily if there is pest or disease because it passes regular inspection and the records are put on a database including test results, soil condition, history, number of times treated, number of times it was fertilized, records of defects if any, totality of banana tree from roots to stem to leaves, who is the owner, who is the people involve, etc.
b. All fruits have label or tag and area all recorded in a database to quickly identify if one has disease or pest or not.
c. International Quarantine standards are practice and no outsider can come in without passing through the procedure.
d. If the plantation did not pass quarantine or was identified under unsafe zone, it won’t be given Accreditation from Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters.
e. No exporters are awarded with Export License without its farm supplier passes the inspection of Quarantine Division of Philippine Department of Agriculture.
3. Banana fruits has cover for protection against insects and pests.
4. We assigned quality inspector/look out in the field to make sure that the bananas are freshly harvested at right age and passed international quality standards.
5. We are in partnership with a number of selected credible farms and packing house. Our packing procedure are under big brands quality standard…
…and our workers immediately reject banana fingers or bunch with found reject qualities.
6. Bananas are again inspected at loading site even they are already in boxes (Sampling process and counter checking of banana quality)
…sensor test (special container)
container provider’s specialist supports testing on bananas
8. Phytosanitary certificate is a must. We will not be issued with Phytosanitary certificate if inspector found rejects at farms on boxes inside the contianer.
9. We formulate our own packing and loading report for buyer’s assurance that we are checking every step of the way.
10. Buyer/Consignee are protected by a contract.
Below are the kind of defects we not allow to be packed:
DIAMOND HEAD FRUIT SPOT
Note: There is so much cheating in this business and the ones who do not make sure who they deal with before the spot buy are the common victims of cheating in many form.