P7-M research facility on banana to rise in Davao del Sur
MATANAO, Philippines – A P7-million banana research facility, which would include a demo farm, is being built here by the state-run Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) in a bid to boost “standards on good agricultural and manufacturing practices of banana and its value-added products.”
The facility will rise on a five-hectare lot here and will be funded in part by the Commission on Higher Education, according to Dr. Irvin Generalao, SPAMAST president.
“The initial five-hectare banana technology innovation center also aims to strengthen the capability of the school’s faculty and students in research and development and in the delivery of its extension services,” Generalao said during the ceremonial launching on Friday last week (April 25).
He said SPAMAST decided to build the facility (construction will start this month) to further boost the growth of the banana industry in Mindanao.
The banana industry is considered among the biggest revenue earners of the country.
In 2012 alone, Generalao said Southern Mindanao for example harvested about 3.79 million metric tons of banana, “which comprised 41 percent of the country’s total banana production that year, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.”
The Mindanao Development Authority also reported that banana accounted for 14.94 percent of Mindanao’s more than $3 billion worth of agricultural exports during the same year.
Worldwide, the Philippines is ranked second among the top producers of bananas, next to Ecuador.
But Generalao said despite the rosy figure, banana producers and exporters in Mindanao have been having problems meeting the growing demand for higher quality bananas abroad.
“Diseases such as Fusarium wilt and Black Sigatoka as well asphytosanitary issues are among these challenges that the banana industry must hurdle in order to meet the growing demand for banana in the international market,” he said.
This is where the SPAMAST facility could help, according to Generalao. He said researches conducted in the facility could lead to new methods to combat the plant diseases or disease-resistant varieties.
Aside from boosting harvest of the Cavendish variety – which exporters mostly grow, Generalao said the facility would help boost the production of local varieties as ‘saba,’ Lakatan, and Latundan.
“Even in the country, the supply of our local banana varieties is still wanting,” Generalao added.