The Coronavirus pandemic is likely to hit the supplies of bananas in Asia. The fruit growers in the Philippines, one of the largest exporters of bananas in the world, said that exports might drop by 40% this year. The strict measures of lockdowns and social distancing governments have taken curb production and transport.
Banana exports from the Philippines are likely to drop to around 2.5 million tons this year, according to Stephen Antig, the executive director of the Philippino Banana growers and exporters association.
Alberto Bacani, the president of Unifrutti Philippines, said that the fruit has to be harvested every day. By the time exports resume at a regular pace, a significant amount of the commodity will go to waste.
In 2019, Philippines shipments of bananas estimated 20% of global exports and 90 % of Asian shipments. China and Japan are its two major markets.
Ecuador is the world’s biggest exporter of bananas. Additionally, other big exporters of the commodity are Guatemala, Costa-Rica, Belgium, and Colombia.
Since mid-March, Luzon, the main island of the country, has been under a lockdown. I will probably last until the end of April. Southern Philippines, home to many banana plantations, has imposed quarantine measures. According to Antig, exports will remain impacted by Coronavirus even after restrictions are lifted. Moreover, social distancing measures are likely to continue, and they will limit the number of workforces.
William Dar, a secretary of agriculture, urged local governments, especially in the provinces where the banana farms are located, to let farmers resume work. These measures help avoid artificial food shortages and food spikes. Antic notes that if the Bukidnon shutdown is eased, the Philippines could export 3 million tons of the fruit in 2020.
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Banana imports undergo a drastic reduction in Japan
The Coronavirus outbreak has slowed down food production and shipments around the world. Quarantines and bans in export caused panic buying and emptied grocery store shelves.
Bacani mentioned that banana volumes would face a drastic reduction in Japan over the next two weeks. However, other exporters such as Ecuador may fill the gap.
Yuko Yamada, a spokesperson for the Japan Banana Importers’ Association, stated that Japan depends largely on imports from the Philippines. Furthermore, she has not noted anything about the shortages or increases in price.
Meng Wei, an official with China Fruits Marketing Association, stated that Japan Banana Importers’ Association had not noticed any change in Philippine banana imports. However, they noted that imports from Myanmar have increased.