By Vincent Mariel P. Galang, June 6 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Business World/Diamond Star Agro Products, Inc.

A JAPANESE COMPANY, fruit packer Diamond Star Corp., has expressed interest in importing 100 metric tons of mango, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said, an order which is expected to help address oversupply conditions after an El Niño-fueled bumper crop.

In a social media post, Mr. Piñol said Diamond Star, which has been importing papayas, pineapple, mango, bananas and turnips from the Philippines, signalled its plans to the Agriculture attache in Tokyo, Samuel Animas, this week.”

“This deal (comes) in time (for) the estimated surplus harvest of 2 million kilos of mango. The Department of Agriculture (DA) will be setting a meeting with Diamond Star and mango farmers from Luzon.”

Mr. Piñol, currently in Japan, met with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Takamuri Yoshikawa, to tackle greater access to Japan for Philippine produce.

Mr. Piñol said Mr. Yoshikawa promised to fast-track the processing of documents and requirements for entry and zero tariffs for Cavendish banana, which is currently charged 8-18%; a 100% exemption from inspection of banana exporting companies who are compliant to the Minimum Residue level of chemical as required by Japan; improved access for avocado; and the recognition of the Philippines’ status as a Foot-and-Mouth Disease-free country as declared by the World Organization for Animal Health.

“It’s a valid request,” Rolando T. Dy, head of the agribusiness studies center at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) said in a phone interview with BusinessWorld, particularly on the matter of banana exports.

Sa banana, may seasonal tariff kasi ‘yan. Tapos may concessions ‘yung Japan (Banana has seasonal tariffs. Then Japan gives concessions)… I don’t know about their arrangements with Ecuador, but if you give that arrangement to Ecuador, they should also give similar arrangements to the Philippines,” Mr. Dy said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the Philippines was the second-biggest exporter of bananas in 2018 with 2.95 million metric tons (MMT), up 77.34% year-on-year. Ecuador had 6.6 MMT.

The Philippines is the largest supplier of banana to Japan. In the first 10 months of 2018, banana exports to Japan increased by 8%. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang