Philippines seeks easier entry of banana exports to Japan
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is asking the Japanese government to ease up on its protocols to expedite the access of local bananas to the neighboring Asian country.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he would lobby to the Japanese government to lift stricter tests for chemical residue on Philippine banana exports.
This as the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) has asked the Department of Agriculture to convince Japan that local banana exports comply with Japanese standards for the maximum residue level (MRL) for chemicals used as insecticides in banana plantations following the institution of new protocols and assessment process by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
“I have talked with officials of PBGEA to assure them that I will personally handle efforts to resolve the issue,” Piñol said.
PBGEA, the country’s biggest banana companies, export 50 percent of their bananas to Japan.
The association sought DA’s assistance in resolving Japan’s implementation of 100 percent testing of Philippine banana exports in August 2018 following the discovery of some bananas from the Philippines that contained residues of Fipronil insecticides beyond the maximum limit imposed by Japanese food safety standards.
The BPI immediately instituted a stricter Philippine assessment process with new protocols and has sent the Japanese government a list of Philippine companies that it certifies to comply with the Japanese MRL standards.
In its letter to Piñol, PBGEA said it is concerned that the 100 percent testing requirement could hurt Philippine exports especially during the Golden Week holiday in Japan from April 28 to May 6 when limited or no cargo inspections are expected.
Piñol said he would present to Japanese officials the new protocols and assessment process implemented by the Philippine government and the banana exporters to assure them Filipino bananas comply with their food safety standards.
Philippine banana exports continued to increase in 2018 after joint government and industry efforts to improve banana production and stop the spread of the Panama disease, giving the Philippines back its reputation as the world’s second largest banana exporter after Ecuador.