GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 Sept) — The Department of Agriculture in Region 12 has allocated around P9 million in additional grants to assist the production requirements of the region’s thriving banana industry.
Dr. Jocelyn Torres, chief of the DA-12’s High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), said the funds will be utilized for the acquisition of four mobile banana packing plants and the establishment of two more banana tissue culture laboratories.
She said the move is part of their continuing efforts to help increase production and improve the quality of bananas produced by the region.
“These will mainly benefit our small banana farmers or growers, especially those in the remote areas,” she said in a press conference on Thursday at the sidelines of the two-day 2016 Regional Banana Congress here.
Torres said the banana tissue culture laboratories, which cost P1.5 million each, will be set up next year in Maitum and Malungon towns in Sarangani province.
The projects will be implemented in partnership with the local government units and banana farmers groups in these areas, she said.
The official said the mobile banana packing plants, which also cost P1.5 million each, will be assigned to banana farmers groups.
She said they will open later this month the acceptance of proposals from interested groups for the availment of the packing plants, which will be released by next year.
DA-12, through the HVCDP’s assistance program, has already established two banana tissue culture laboratories and four stationary packing plants.
The laboratories are located in Barangay Balindog in Kidapawan City and in Magpet town in North Cotabato.
Two of the packing plants or stations are in Kidapawan City, and one each in Alabel, Sarangani and Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.
Torres said these facilities are all operated by small banana farmers organizations in coordination with the DA-12.
She said these groups are composed of banana farmers who have plantation areas of three hectares and below.
The Kidapawan-based packing plants are run by the Soccsksargen Banana Industry Council, she said.
Carlene Collado, DA-12 acting regional executive director, said the region is currently the country’s third biggest banana producer.
He said Region 12 has around 32,800 hectares of banana plantations that produce 1,159,091 metric tons (MT) annually.
Davao Region remains the country’s top banana producer at 3,455.014 MT, followed by Northern Mindanao at 1,832,172 MT. (MindaNews)