The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will lobby for the lifting of stricter Japanese tests on chemical residues in Philippine banana exports for faster access of the products to Japan.
This after the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA) requested the DA to convince Japanese officials that Philippine banana exports comply with Japanese standards on the maximum residue level (MRL) for chemicals used as insecticides in banana plantations. The association said the banana exports have become compliant after new protocols and assessment process were put in place by the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
“I have talked with officials of PBGEA to assure them that I will personally handle efforts to resolve the issue,” DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a statement.
PBGEA had earlier sought the DA’s assistance in resolving the Japanese government’s implementation of 100% testing of Philippine banana exports starting August 2018 following the discovery that some of the bananas contained residues of Fipronil insecticides beyond the maximum limit imposed by Japanese food safety standards.
BPI immediately instituted a stricter Philippine assessment process with new protocols and sent the Japanese government a list of Philippine companies that it certifies to be complying with Japanese MRL standards.
In a letter to Piñol, PBGEA, whose members export 50% of their bananas to Japan, expressed concerned that the 100% testing requirement could hurt Philippine exports, especially during the Golden Week holiday in Japan from late April to May 6 when limited or no cargo inspections are expected.
“Mr. Secretary, may we ask for your personal intercession in addressing the issue of … MRL on Philippine bananas exported to Japan,” PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said in the letter. “May we ask you to please lead the delegation to Japan to settle this issue which if not addressed will affect our exports especially during the… Golden Week Holiday which starts April 26.”
Piñol said he will present to Japanese officials the new protocols and assessment process implemented by the Philippine government and the banana exporters to assure them that Filipino bananas comply with Japanese food safety standards.
The DA said Philippine banana exports continued to increase in 2018 after successful joint government and industry efforts to improve banana production and stop the spread of the Panama disease, restoring the Philippines’ reputation as the world’s second largest Cavendish banana exporter after Ecuador.