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Business

DA to review rubber, cacao, coffee industries

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — On top of advancing the durian industry, Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban plans to revive projects he started in the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) such as those in rubber, cacao, coffee and banana sectors.

In his keynote address during BPI’s 93rd anniversary, Panganiban said the country’s durian industry has bright prospects with the $469-million importation to China set this year.

“I will go on to explore the possibility of increasing — if not developing — the durian industry which our President has discussed with people from People’s Republic of China. And we have, for this year, an importation value of $469 million for the durian industry in Davao and in the Visayas,” he said.

This forms part of the country’s $2-billion fruit export deal with China.

Earlier, the DA said China was scheduled to initially import $260 million of Philippine durian under the deal as ordered by Chinese companies including Dole (Shanghai) Fruits and Vegetables Trading Co., Ltd/Dole China, Prestige International Co. Ltd., Shanghai Goodfarmer Group, and the Dashang Group.

“I hope those involved whether in plant quarantine, nursery development and production of seeds and planting materials will be involved religiously in this endeavor,” Panganiban said.

Apart from the durian sector, the DA official said he would lead the BPI to also expand the cacao, coffee and rubber industries.

Currently, the development of the cacao industry is being spearheaded by the Philippine Cacao Growers Association of the Philippines.

“On that basis, I intend to at least preside over the operations of that organization for it is a project I started way back when I was the director of BPI,” Panganiban said.

He also intends to revive the coffee and rubber industries — projects he spearheaded when he was the director of the bureau.

“Same is true with coffee, an industry that has been lost but has been found recently with the Philippine Coffee Association of the Philippines working closely with the BPI in developing the coffee industry,” Panganiban said.

“The other component I think that will be worth looking at is the rubber industry. This is a program that I had started way back but has been lost in the crowds,” he said.

The coffee industry is targeted to expand in the near term while a development program will be launched for the rubber industry.

“I intend to achieve that goal in the next two to three years under the Marcos administration,” Panganiban said.

For the rubber industry, Panganiban is working with the people he worked with 37 years ago to come out with a program that will facilitate development of rubber in the country.

The BPI is also being urged to look at addressing the Panama disease or Fusarium wilt to strengthen the banana industry.

The Panama disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum that enters the plant’s roots, and colonizes the xylem vessels, blocking the flow of water and nutrients, which may cause the plant to wilt and die.

Panganiban said he met with the Japanese ambassador to discuss a possible program for the termination of fusarium in banana.

“We intend to intensify that and today, I will be meeting with the Japanese ambassador to finalize a program that we shall do to emphasize the obvious, the control of fusarium wilt in the country,” he said.

“We hope and anticipate that these projects will be new today but it is as old as it was when I was in the BPI,” the official said.

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