Banana center in the works

Posted on May 06, 2014

DAVAO CITY -- A government-run school in Davao del Sur is putting up a P7-million banana center to address the need to develop indigenous banana varieties and produce crops on a 30-hectare farm.

Dr. Irvin C. Generalao, president of the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine Aquatic School of Technology, said the banana center, to be located in Matanao town, will apply the results of researches from various institutions.

"We will not conduct new research because what we will do is to apply the findings of existing researches so the small farmers can benefit from them," said Mr. Generalao.

He added that the center will also be used to propagate indigenous varieties like latundan, lakatan and saba. It will also come up with marketing mechanisms.

"Although we know that the local market can still absorb additional production, we are looking forward to penetrating the international market [with the indigenous varieties]," he added.

Mr. Generalao said Matanao Mayor Vicente A. Fernandez has promised to help the school in the program and that the latter "assured us that he will also find ways to allocate funds for the project."

Prof. Graciella C. Caballero, chief researcher of the school and head of the project, said the banana center will also be used to implement researches’ recommendations on controlling major banana diseases like black sigatoka and fusarium wilt.

"We will use the results [of the researches] as we look at how to commercialize them," said Ms. Caballero, adding that this will help small banana growers that do not have funds to fight these diseases.

Fusarium wilt, more popularly known as Panama disease, has wreaked havoc on small banana growers’ farms in the Davao Region because there has been no effective solution other than to uproot the afflicted plants. One company in Compostela Valley has even abandoned its farm after it was hit by the disease. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco