Higher banana profits linked to ground spraying

June 11th, 2013 by

DAVAO CITY — Small banana farmers will earn more if they shift from aerial to manual or ground spraying, according to a study commissioned by environmental group Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS).

  The unpublished study, “Financial Assessment of Shifting from Aerial to Ground Spray in Banana Plantations in Davao Region,” reported a 19% increase in potential gross profit, from P116,000 to P138,200 per hectare per year, for small banana farmers who shifted from aerial to ground spraying.

The findings also showed that small farmers experience “negative net income” because of the high cost of aerial spraying. On average, the study estimated, aerial spraying operations cost P68,000 per hectare for year for large plantations.

In present practice, this cost is charged against the account of the small farmers, who pay an average of P73,800 per hectare per year, the study added.

The study also claimed that large plantations prefer aerial spraying because shifting to ground spraying leads to additional costs of P28,700 per hectare per year.

However, IDIS Executive Director Ann V. Fuertes has said that the increase would be due to additional infrastructure needed to maximize the results of ground spraying. Ms. Fuertes noted that the report recommended additional road networks, trucks and labor but added that profit margins would be “acceptable” despite potential losses.

“This [the study] is to show that banana industry will not die, but it is still profitable even without aerial spraying,” Ms. Fuertes said.

The IDIS officer said the group is now working to educate independent banana growers, mostly small plantations contracted by big banana firms, on the benefits of shifting to manual spray.

The study by researcher Anabeth San Gregorio covered agricultural areas in Tamayong, a remote eastern district of Davao City, and in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

Citing environmental and health hazards, in 2007, the city government passed an ordinance to ban the aerial spraying of agrochemicals. The ordinance affected the operations of at least 5,000 hectares of banana plantations here.

Industry group Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association has challenged the ordinance, but the Supreme Court has yet to issue its ruling. (M.M. Padillo, BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE)