Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has refuted reports of a ban of Philippine bananas to Iran.
Speaking at a press conference Friday at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas shortly after the opening of the three-day Global Banana Summit in time for the 12th Davao Trade Expo (DATE) 2010, Alcala said there is no such ban of banana known to be the biggest export agriculture product of the country especially in the Davao Region.
Alcala said the problem lies on the issuance of letter of credit (LC) of the importers in Iran to Filipino banana exporters.
An LC is being issued by an importer to cause the exportation of a certain product. Without an LC a product cannot be exported.
It was learned that most of the banana importers from Iran are recently faced by the difficulty of issuing an LC to exporters, that’s why Philippine bananas cannot find its way to Iran, the biggest exporter of Philippine bananas in the Middle East.
Alcala, however, said government has exerted efforts to solve the problem like looking for other potential markets to remedy the export earnings lost to the Iran market.
Alcala named China one of the four countries which have a huge banana requirement. In fact, he said an initial shipment was already made recently to China in lieu of the problem facing Iran.
He said government is also looking at Australia as another potential market. Plans of a huge shipment of bananas to Australia is already underway, he said.
“We are looking forward to find other ways and means to solve the problem,” Alcala said.
It was Stephen Antig, president of the Pilipino Banana Growers Exporters Association (PBGEA) who earlier issued a statement on the Iran ban and its domino effect to the banana industry in terms of income losses, lost of jobs, and economic hardship to families dependent on the banana industry.
Meanwhile, Lizabel Holganza, chairperson of DATE 2010 confirmed Alcala’s statements at the opening rites of the major business event.
She elaborated Alcala’s statements, saying that there is just a slight challenge among importers from Iran in terms of producing LCs.
“Importers need to issue an LC, ito ang hindi magagawa ng Iran (this thing Iran cannot do),” Holganza said.
She described as “good news” the achievement of the national government in finding ways to damage control the impact of Iran’s stopped importation of bananas from the Philippines.
She also said the country should not be blinded on the potential local demand for Philippine bananas.