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P100-M agri lab to rise in Davao City

By Antonio L. Colina IV

DAVAO CITY — A one-stop-shop laboratory facility to further promote research and development in Davao region’s agriculture industry will soon rise in Davao City.

FRESH LETTUCE — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pinol inspects the quality and price of lettuce and other highland vegetables during his visit to the Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Post in La Trinidad, Benguet, recently. (Zaldy C. Comanda) 2016.mb.com.ph

FRESH LETTUCE — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pinol inspects the quality and price of lettuce and other highland vegetables during his visit to the Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Post in La Trinidad, Benguet, recently. (Zaldy C. Comanda) 2016.mb.com.ph

Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol announced plans to construct a P100 million laboratory facility in Bago Oshiro in Tugbok District here that will handle plant disease, animal disease, water and soil analysis.

He said this will especially benefit the banana industry, which “has largely been left on its own in dealing with problems on plant diseases, tenurial issues and extortion by rebel group.”

One of the problems banana growers face is the Fusarim wilt or Panama disease, which the Department of Agriculture Region 11 said has already affected 15,700 hectares of banana plantations in Davao Region.

Piñol added that the banana industry levies over P6 billion annually in taxes, provides a total of P150 billion worth of investments and employs 540,000 workers.

“The Philippines is the No. 1 producer of Cavendish banana for export to the different countries in Asia and has captured 95 percent of the market. A seven-month drought and plant health issues like the Panama Disease has affected the industry, pulling down the banana earnings to only about $400 million last year,” he said.

The move follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s vocal support for the creation of a Banana Industry Development Council to oversee the development, research and marketing of Philippine bananas, considered the second biggest foreign currency earner of the country next to coconut.