The Export Development Council (EDC), the export policy-making body in the country, has lauded the swift and positive response of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help lower the cost of fruits and vegetable exports.
In a news statement, EDC Chairman and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez noted that exporters can now avail of free Pesticide Residue Analysis (PRA) test on fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.
This availment follows an order by Agriculture Secretary William Dar directing the Bureau of Plant Industry and its satellite laboratories to waive the fees in a bid to strengthen the country’s agricultural export.
Lopez expressed appreciation for Dar’s approval of this proposal, as this is expected to contribute to the improved performance of agriculture exports to the country’s recovery and overall export targets.
“The EDC thanks and commends Sec. Dar for adopting the suggestions and recommendations of our stakeholders on how to improve our competitiveness in the agricultural sector,” Lopez said. “We need this kind of developmental vision and leadership to move the agribusiness to recovery and progress.”
The directive is in DA Order 11, Series of 2021, which exempts from PRA fees fresh and primary processed (frozen, dried, pureed) fruits and vegetables that are intended for export by accredited exporters and farmers.
It came as a response to the joint position paper by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) and the Philippine Food Exporters (Philfoodex), represented by EDC Vice Chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis and EDC Agriculture sector representative Bobby Amores, submitted to the DA and BPI in January this year that strongly recommended to scrap the fees as these are hurting the competitiveness of food exporters.
Based on statistics, the Philippines’s exports of fruits and vegetables continue to shrink over the last 10 years.
The Philippines used to be the third-largest exporter of fresh bananas globally until 2015 and the top exporter of fresh mangoes to Japan, accounting for more than 60 percent of imports from 2005 to 2009.
However, due to chemical residue issues, and competition from other suppliers, exports dropped. The Japan fresh mango market is now dominated by Thailand and Mexico.
Since 2007, the National Pesticide and Analytical Laboratory (NPAL) has not been imposing PRA fees for fresh and frozen mango exports in compliance with Executive Order 554 of 2006 issued by then-President GMA and DAO 7 of 2007.
However, in 2019, NPAL started imposing residue fees on frozen mangoes amounting to P5,200 for each lot sample. The amount multiplies tremendously as the costs are assessed based on the submitted lot size sample.
“Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we consider this bold response of DA as a gateway for us to boost the agricultural sector and also assist our economic growth and recovery towards a post-pandemic future,” Lopez said.