The Philippines, the world’s third largest exporter of bananas, has lost up to a quarter of its banana plantations after typhoon Pablo, also known as typhoon Bopha, struck. The typhoon is one of the most powerful ever recorded in the island of Mindanao and has caused the deaths of over 400 people as well as destroying huge areas of agricultural regions. Stephen Antig, the executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association has said that while analysis is still in progress the damage to the banana industry is likely to be in excess of US$ 318 million after around 10,000 ha of banana plantations in the badly affected areas of Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte were destroyed. The impact of the typhoon on Philippino banana production has huge implications for many farmers and businesses since bananas are one of the key export industries in the country. Approximately 150,000 people depend on the banana industry in Compostela Valley alone. There are further concerns that the storm may encourage the spread of Panama disease in the region, a disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum which severely affects banana plant yields.
Recovery and replanting will be a slow process, since once planted bananas take a further 9 months to mature until they can be harvested, but it is hoped the Department of Agriculture will be able to provide an assistance program.