Japan supports Philippines in fight against fruit diseases

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Japan supports Philippines in fight against fruit diseases

The Japanese government will support the Philippines in the process of developing a plan to eliminate the diseases hurting banana and cacao. 

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are set to collaborate to come up with a management system to keep the diseases at bay.

The Philippines is the largest exporter of bananas in Asia. In recent years the country has been in the top five banana exporters in the world,  exporting around 3.5 million tonnes of bananas annually.

The country is the second-largest exporter of bananas in the world, with exports reaching 4.40 million tons in 2019. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, banana plantations covered about 454,000 hectares of land in 2012 and 443,000 hectares in 2014/2015.

In 2022, the Philippines exported $1.41 billion worth of bananas, making the fruit the tenth most exported product in the country. Japan is the largest importer of Philippine bananas, followed by China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. 

Cacao on the other hand, has seen its ups and downs, but has been gaining traction worldwide. The commodity is among the preferred activities listed in the Philippines’ 2014-2016 Investment Priorities Plan.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development has identified cacao as one of the priority crops under its Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans. 

Both commodities have been contracting diseases that lead to the decreased crop yields and economic losses for farmers.

Black pod disease and other pests destroy as much as 40 percent of the country’s cacao output, and the fungal Panama disease, which affects banana trees, continues to threaten the Cavendish banana, the country's main export variety.

The project, "Development of Novel Disease Management Systems for Banana and Cacao," is implemented as a JICA Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) initiative.

The collaboration, according to the Philippines' Department of Agriculture, seeks to "enhance food sufficiency through increased production and partnerships with stakeholders."

The Bureau of Plant Industry finalized the project's Memorandum of Agreement alongside JICA members at Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Tamagawa University in Tokyo.

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