PH to lobby easing of Japanese ‘protocol’ on banana

MANILA — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Saturday said he will lead efforts to call on the Japanese government to lift stricter tests for chemical residue and ensure faster access of Philippine banana exports to Japan.

Piñol said he will personally handle the request of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) to convince Japanese officials that Philippine banana exports comply with Japanese standards for the maximum residue level (MRL) for chemicals used as insecticides in banana plantations, following the institution of new protocols and assessment process by the 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,” he said. 

PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig earlier underscored the importance of the protocol issue, adding that this can only be done through government-to-government action.

Antig said the protocol issue was raised in August 2018 on Fipronil exceedance of the MRL after Japan required 100 percent mandatory testing of Philippine bananas entering the country.

“The 100 percent mandatory testing delays the release of the bananas to the market,” he said.

PBGEA members export 50 percent of their bananas to Japan.

The BPI immediately instituted a stricter Philippine assessment process with new protocols and has sent the Japanese government a list of Philippine companies that it had certified to have complied with the Japanese MRL standards.

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 their food safety standards.

Philippine banana exports continued to increase in 2018 after joint government and industry efforts to improve banana production and stop the spread of the Panama disease, giving the Philippines back its reputation as the world’s second largest banana exporter after Ecuador. Lilybeth Ison /PNA –