KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/02 September)—The Department of Agriculture (DA) has earmarked P12 million this year to further strengthen the banana industry in Region 12, officials said.
Amalia Datukan, DA-12 director, said that banana is among the high value crops given focus by the agency because of the demand in the foreign and domestic markets.
“We are also pushing for the development of the banana industry as one of the important strategies to support countryside development and achieve inclusive growth,” she said in a statement.
In 2012, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported that banana production in Region 12, which has around 30,000 hectares of land planted to the crop, reached 1.1 million metric tons.
Region 12 or Soccsksargen region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Aside from being the third largest producer of Cavendish banana in the Philippines, Ms. Datukan said that Soccsksargen Region is Mindanao’s leading producer of lakatan bananas that are mostly sold to the domestic market, particularly in Cebu and Metro Manila.
The Davao region is the country’s largest Cavendish banana producer, reportedly followed by Northern Mindanao.
Danilo Centillas, DA-12 High Value Crop Development Program coordinator, said that banana farmers in Region 12 can avail of assistance like post-harvest equipment and processing facilities from the agency.
“We also provide them with marketing support, including the prevention of pests and diseases that affect banana,” he said.
Ecclesiastes Roque, president of the Banana Industry Council of Region 12, said it is important to strengthen market linkages between banana growers and major buyers and processors to support the industry’s long-term sustainability.
He also cited the need to upgrade the existing shipping services and logistics system to reduce post-harvest losses and ensure the quality of the fruit before it hits the markets.
In Region 12, the provinces of South Cotabato and North Cotabato are the major producers of banana with the presence of multinational corporations.
Sumifru Philippines, Corp. maintains large tracts of lands in these two provinces that particularly produce the Cavendish variety.
Dole Philippines, Inc., which is mainly into pineapple farming, is also producing banana for the domestic and export markets through subsidiary Standard Philippines Fruit Corporation or Stanfilco.(Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)