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Bopha destruction to have long term effect on Philippine banana farms.

Davao City:A few days after typhoon Bopha's winds ravaged expanses of South-eastern Mindanao's banana plantations, fresh new stems spring from the felled trees signifying hope for thousands of farmers whose lives depend on the plant.

A typical banana plant takes anywhere from six to nine months to become productive after which it dies and a new sucker spring out from its carcass, yet to allude the resiliency of the banana tree to that of the country's banana industry would be an oversight.

"Banana plantations, like those in Compostella Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte need farm inputs like fertilisers and insecticides and I think farmers would be very much in need of that at this time considering the devastation caused by Bopha (typhoon local name Pablo) on their farms," Ivette Matabalan, who works as a researcher for the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBEA) told Gulf News in an interview.

PBGEA said much of the planters affected are independent farmers and are not members of their organisation, she said, thus, all the more they need support from the government.

She said rehabilitating damaged properties are one thing, but aside from this, there is a need for the government to help this farmers get back on their feet so that they could continue on with what they are doing for the economy.

According to the Department of Agriculture, a total 18,959 hectares of banana farms have been damaged by Bopha in Southeastern Mindanao alone. In terms of families dependent on these plantations, the region faces a humanitarian crisis of major proportions unless the government take steps to provide temporary livelihood to these farmers.

Matabalan said that it was fortunate that the typhoon struck not at the peak season of March to May otherwise "it would have been more catastrophic."

Bananas of the Cavendish variety are the main banana export product of the island of Mindanao, but aside from these type, the country also now exports Cardava, which is processed into chips and Latundan.

Stephen Antig, PBGEA executive director was quoted in a report as saying that the losses from Bopha in terms of lost export opportunities, could run up to P7.5 billion (Dhs672,928,419).

As the farmers reel from the shock of losing their homes and their loved ones from Bopha, some of them take stock of the tremendous impact of their long term losses. While some of them await in long lines for the processing of their loans from farmers cooperatives in New Batn, Maganding, Maco and Nabunturan in Compostela Valley and other similar groups in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, some of them take to asking for alms from passing motorists.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 12, 2012
Words:465
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