Vice President Jejomar C. Binay assured members of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) of the Aquino administration’s support in developing and maintaining a globally competitive banana export industry.

He even promised to relay to President Benigno Aquino III the various concerns and issues that PBGEA raised during their meeting.

“Coming from an agricultural center, he (President Aquino) is sensitive to the importance of our crops and the contributions of our farmers to our nation’s welfare,” Binay said in a speech during the induction of the officers of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) in Davao.

“I am here to listen and more importantly, to bring your voice to the necessary channels in Manila,” he added.

Vice President Binay then pushed for the establishment of a research institute specific to banana growing and stressed the need to harness technology in order to promote growth in the industry.

“We cannot lag behind in the digital age, but it is now that we should learn to explore and apply new technologies to our agriculture in order to enhance our food security and increase the value of our exports,” he said.

“We all have to employ our greatest powers in order to protect this industry which contributes around $720 million in export earnings yearly,” Binay added.

The Vice President also warned against the threats of the Fusarium wilt disease which has already infected about 1,200 hectares of banana plantations. He said that if the disease is left unchecked, the plague could wipe-out the banana industry and deny planters of much needed revenue.

“As the country’s fifth largest export industry, and a major source of livelihood for the people of Mindanao, we must address this problem quickly,” he said.

“Over 300,000 families stand to be affected and I am certain that your association will work tirelessly with local and national government units to end this threat,” Binay added.