2/S1 The Economy
July 29, 2011
Research for banana industry pushed
THE MINDANAO Development Authority (MinDA) has taken a step towards the establishment of a body that will conduct scientific research to improve banana growing on the island, an official statement released on Thursday said.
MinDA said in its statement that its board has approved the conduct of a study that will determine the feasibility of setting up a specialized banana research institute on the island.
“With the substantial contribution of banana to total exports and emerging threats to the banana industry, the board sees it fit for Mindanao to have an institution responsible for the conduct of comprehensive studies and scientific approaches to sustainable banana farming,” the statement quoted MinDA Chairman Luwalhati R. Antonino as saying, noting that, currently, there is no research institute that collates, integrates and supports such studies on the crop.
Earlier this year, key industry stakeholders under the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association called for specialized research and development support.
Ms. Antonino said that, among others, the envisioned body could find better ways to prevent diseases that infest banana farms, improve farming techniques and post-harvest practices, as well as explore the potentials of banana varieties like lakatan,binangay, latundan and cardaba.
The MinDA chief noted that while there are agricultural research efforts under the Zonal Research Center of the University of Southern Mindanao -- which focuses on the potentials of abaca, banana and oil palm in the regions of Zamboanga, Central Mindanao and Caraga -- there is still the need to collate research findings and recommendations relevant to Mindanao’s banana industry.
Moreover, Ms. Antonino noted, the center’s three-year funding ends this year.
MinDA also noted that Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo P. del Rosario had proposed that the research institute be organized under the University of Southeastern Philippines.
Mindanao now accounts for about 81% of the country’s banana production. Last year, Mindanao’s banana output of 7.4 million metric tons (MT) comprised the bulk of the country’s total production of 9.1 million MT.
While Mindanao continues to dominate the Philippine banana industry, local banana growers and producers have voiced their concerns on industry’s sustainability.
Besides trade constraints like Australia’s stringent import requirements, local banana growers have to contend with climate uncertainties, while exporters have complained of the practice of some contract growers selling their produce to traders who offer higher prices.
Among others, growers fear that banana shoots that sprouted during the drought last year will likely yield substandard produce unfit for the export market, MinDA noted further.