By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China has already affected the country’s banana shipments that go to the world’s second largest economy and it will not take long before the outbreak’s impact could spread to other agriculture commodities.
This is why the Department of Agriculture (DA) is urging local exporters to come up with “interventions” since China is one of the top markets for a lot of agricultural products coming from the Philippines.
“Exporters should propose interventions and present it to us,” DA spokesman Noel Reyes said in a phone interview. “If they need help, we are ready hear their position.”
He said this as Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen A. Antig said that nCoV has already dampened the country’s banana exports to China.
In a Reuters report, Antig said that work stoppages and market closures in China stemming from a coronavirus epidemic are already hurting small- and medium-sized banana growers in the Philippines.
From January to November last year, the country’s banana shipments to China stood at 1.428 million metric tons (MT) valued at $599.216 million to China.
In a phone interview, Antig said that with what has been happening in China and “as a strategy for survival”, it is important that exporters should now start looking for alternative markets where they can be competitive.
“This is an area where the government can help,” Antig said. “We need our agriculture attaches to help in identifying new markets”.
According to him, local exporters are now eyeing Indonesia as an ideal market for Philippine bananas.
Aside from bananas, agricultural products that the Philippines exports to China include coconut, vegetables, fish, meat, among others.
During the third quarter of 2019, China emerged as the fourth top importer of animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products; prepared edible fats; animal or vegetable waxes coming from the Philippines, importing as much as 9.74 thousand metric tons (MT) worth $8.65 million.
During the same period, China was the Philippines’ second top importer for vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants, while in terms of fish and crustaceans, molluscs, and other aquatic invertebrates, the world’s second largest economy was the Philippines third top export market.
As for these products, Reyes reiterated that exporters should just come up with their own interventions and that the government will just help them in any way to execute it.