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Banana exporters eye Russian market

By Antonio L. Colina IV

Davao City – After getting a huge boost from re-established relations with China, banana exporters in Davao Region are now eyeing Russia as another major international market for their products.

Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) 11 executive director Edwin Sotto said in an interview that some large banana companies have been sending trial shipments Russia for the last three to four years, and are optimistic about the big potentials there.

“We have trial shipment already. We would like to look at in the near future to ship on a regular basis to Russia,” he said.

He added that they were still verifying the exact quantity and frequency of banana exports that would satisfy demand in Russia.

Sotto likewise pointed out that there was also a need to open a new route that will take the bananas straight from Davao to Russia.

A more direct route should be determined to shorten a circuitous passage that would take the banana exports from Davao to China, then to Vladisvostok, which is the major Pacific port of Russia near the borders of China and North Korea.

Sotto believes issues on distance and logistics will be resolved if the Comprehensive Development Act for Bananas will be passed in Congress, which will establish the National Banana Industry Development Council.

The council will guide the overall growth and set guidelines for the industry, he said.

“Malaki ang potential. The population of Russia is just a little less than China,” Sotto noted.

He said it was necessary to look for new international markets to add to the existing importers of Philippine banana.

Japan remains as the biggest buyer of Philippine bananas, with importations valued at more than $227 million in 2015.

It was followed by China with $157 million, South Korea with $80 million, Iran $53 million, and United Arab Emirates $24million.

“No less than the President Duterte endorsed the process. He didn’t like an executive order. He would prefer a congressional law that would create a National Banana Industry Development Council that would create the National Banana Research Center. An enabling law will take over the overall development of the banana industry,” Sotto underscored.