ARMM gears up for more banana exports to Japan
The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is gearing up for the challenge of more banana exports to Japan with Unifrutti Group Philippines, one of the largest banana producers, already planning for expansion of its plantation in this conflict-torn region.
This followed after Japan and the Philippines agreed to work on to reduce or eliminate tariff on banana exports to Japan following President Duterte’s state visit to Tokyo.
Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing Head of the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) of ARMM said Unifrutti plans to have fresh investments in 2,600 hectares of land in the said municipalities.
This is on top of their existing investments in a 1,500 hectare banana plantation in Datu Paglas and Buluan municipalities in the same province.
Last year, Unifrutti became the largest investor in the ARMM after registering with the RBOI their P3.7 Billion Cavendish banana plantation in Talayan, Guindulungan and Buldon municipalities, all in Maguindanao province.
Aside from Unifrutti, other investors in Cavendish banana plantations in ARMM are the Del Monte Fresh Fruits (Delinanas) fruit company with 500-1,000 hectare planted in Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao; the 550 hectare Al-Mujahidun Agro Resources and Development, Inc. (AMARDI) plantation in Ampatuan, Maguindanao; and lastly the 500 hectare Alip River Development Export Corp (ARDEXCOR) in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.
Mindanao is in fact already a major source of exports of Cavendish bananas to Japan, particularly from the Unifrutti Group. The Philippines supplies 86 percent of banana requirement in Japan.
Filipino farmers in conflict-wracked Central Mindanao, particularly the ARMM component province of Maguindanao, will supply Cavendish bananas to a Japanese supermarket chain under an agreement that will be signed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Tokyo.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol was quoted as saying a 5,000-hectare Cavendish banana plantation, which can produce up to 20 million boxes annually, will be dedicated for export to Japan that is also expected to generate thousands of jobs.
“First time that they (Japan) really specified that they want bananas coming from conflict areas,” Pinol was quoted in a DZMM radio interview.
Banana exports to Japan are slapped with 8.5 percent to 18.5 percent tariff, depending on the season.