Japan firm to import PH bananas
TOKYO—A deal to import $220 million worth of Philippine bananas by Japan annually is in the pipeline and it is also aimed at providing a sustained source of livelihood to rebel returnees and beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program, according to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
The deal is among those being worked out during President Duterte’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he is scheduled to discuss economic and defense concerns with Japanese leaders.
The bananas from the Philippines would be brought to Japan by Farmind Corp., a major fruit distributor in Japan.
Source of livelihood
Alvarez said he had known Farmind president Tatstuo Horiuchi for some time and sought him out for help in providing a source of livelihood to farmers, as well as former rebels, especially given that the President has been actively pursuing peace talks.
“I asked him if he could help the Philippines, especially the CARP [Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program] beneficiaries, the rebel returnees, if they could commit to buy quite a number of fruits coming from the Philippines at a good price,” Alvarez told reporters in Tokyo, where he is joining Mr. Duterte.
20 million boxes
Farmind is targeting to get 20 million boxes of bananas from the Philippines, Horiuchi said. This would represent about 30 percent of the Japanese market.
At present, only some 2 million boxes of bananas are being imported from the Philippines.
The cultivation of more bananas for the Japanese market would mean an additional 25,000 to 30,000 hectares of planting areas in Mindanao, which means more jobs to be created, said Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap, chair of the House committee on economic affairs.
Yap, also a former agriculture secretary, said the growth of the Philippine economy had to be expanded to the agriculture sector, which is 12 percent of gross domestic product.
“But two-thirds of poverty is in the agriculture sector. That’s why we welcome this news from Farmind, that they want to procure at least 20 million boxes every year,” he said.
Yap said it was a very good fit.
With the forthcoming deal with Farmind, it would be easier to program production, he added.
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