Top banana grower and exporter Unifrutti Tropical Philippines Inc. has signed an agreement for a $19-million loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to expand Cavendish Banana production area to meet increasing export market demand for Cavendish bananas.
DBP EXTENDS $19-MILLION LOAN TO BANANA FIRM. Top officials of Unifrutti Tropical Philippines Inc. and Development Bank of the Philippines exchange documents formalizing the $19-million loan agreement to develop and expand the Mindanao-based company’s Cavendish banana production area. Photo shows (from left): Edwin S. Ledesma, chief financial officer of Unifrutti); Ana Marie E. Veloso, DBP vice president; Cecilia C. Borromeo, DBP President-CEO; Alberto F. Bacani, Unifrutti President-CEO;, Alberto G. Romulo DBP chairman; Amelita Banal-Pinanday, DBP manager; and Jose B. Agoilo, Unifrutti VP for production.
Alberto F. Bacani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unifrutti Tropical Philippines, said the loan proceeds (equivalent to P1.045 billion) will be used to develop about 700 hectares of new farms dedicated to producing Cavendish banana. “We have identified areas in Davao del Sur and Bukidnon whose local governments and landowners have expressed full willingness to work with us,” said Bacani.
He added that the soon-to-be-developed banana farms have satisfied Unifrutti’s key parameters for soil fertility, access to water for irrigation, proximity to national road networks and proper land documentation.
Moreover, the Unifrutti loan package is DBP’s largest banana farm development financing approved to date. Bacani said bank officials have indicated continued financing for future expansion if the pilot farms prove to be successful.
At present, Unifrutti has about 1,200 hectares of corporate farms and 5,000 hectares of contract growers. It employs about 3,000 workers in its various production and packing units. It is the 4thlargest banana exporter in the Philippines. The company’s fruit exports find their way to markets located in the Middle East and Japan,China and Korea.
Significantly, Cavendish banana is now the biggest and most important dollar earner among the top agricultural exports in the country.
In its preliminary market review report, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that Philippine banana exports last year expanded by 77.34 percent to an all-time high of 2.95 million metric tons, from a recorded volume of 1.663 MMT in 2017.
Bacani, who is also Chairman of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., attributed this improved shipment performance to significant investments in area expansion, new technologies and improved inputs.
Report from Manila Bulletin