UPLAND FARMERS in Maguindanao, mostly members of the Teduray indigenous people, have started developing an initial five-hectare area to plant the Cardava banana variety to diversify their income sources away from traditional crops such as rice and corn.

“I hope that this will encourage other people to go into Cardava planting (and not just Cavendish which is the traditional export variety) because there is also available market and good income for Cardava,” Ishak V. Mastura, chair of the regional Bangsamoro Board of Investments (BBoI), said following the Oct. 29 groundbreaking ceremony for the project.

The BBoI helped forge a partnership between Datucampong Banana Plantation, the new investor, and Usman Banana Plantation, the source of Cardava seedlings which provides technical as well as marketing assistance.

Datucampong is planning to develop a 50-hectare area for Cardava.

Cardava, called kamison in Maguindanao and more commonly known as saba in other parts of the country, is usually used for cooking and processing. It is also exported frozen in vacuum packaging.

“We are also eyeing future ventures to develop 150 hectares of Cavendish Banana Plantation here in the area that will generate at least 250 jobs, mostly for the local resident farmers,” Mr. Mastura added.

In August, the BBoI held a forum for farmers and residents of South Upi, North Upi and Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao to present agribusiness opportunities and available assistance to farmers. — Marifi S. Jara