Kiko pushes to prop up country’s banana export industry
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, December 16, 2010-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food yesterday pushes the immediate implementation of measures to prop up the ailing local banana export industry that was badly hit by the decreased shipments to Iran and at the same time sponsors a committee report on the condition of the Philippines export industry of banana. 
Kiko recommended to the government to appoint an ambassador to Iran who will make effective representation for the interest of the country in line with the trading industry where he said that there is no ambassador to Iran and that hampers country’s representation, adding that he likes to address the gaps regarding trade agreements between the two countries where he recommended the sending of a high-level delegation composed of the secretary or undersecretary of trade, foreign affairs and agriculture to clarify issues, and work to revive the trade and export of bananas in Iran.
At least $720 million dollars maybe lost in annual sales due to the limited exports to Iran which means unemployment for the 240,000 workers in the farm sector and in support industries, such as carton manufacturing, trucking, port services and shipping.
Shipments of Philippine bananas to Iran were abruptly stopped in the first week of October this year when Iranian authorities imposed a ban on 48 imported fruits. Philippine bananas, pineapples and papayas were not included in the ban but importation by Iran of said commodities was drastically slowed down by the non-issuance of import permits by Iranian authorities to their fruit importers in a public hearing on the detrimental effects of the US sanctions on Iran to the Philippine banana export industry in Davao City headed by Pangilinan as the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. or PBGEA stated.
He recommended that the Philippines should identify other banana exports outlet to include China, Kuwait, Australia, and Russia, hoping that the recommendations of the committee report will mitigate the effects to local banana farmers and industry of the reduced exports to Iran. (Jason de Asis)