Dwarf Banana Now Tissued-Cultured
One piece of good news is that the banana that looks like a dwarf version of our Saba banana is now being tissue-cultured for commercial planting.
Now christened Mama Sita banana, it was introduced from Thailand a few years back through the initiative of the Mama Sita Foundation. The imported plants were planted in a demo farm consisting of several hundred hills in the property of Dr. Benito Vergara who is most active in a research and development project on fruit crops supported by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).
When we visited the plantation earlier this year, the plants were fruiting very well and the fruits were about ready for harvest. After the fruits were harvested, a panel of tasters evaluated the ripe fruits. The mature ones that were not yet ripe were processed into chips. Now, Dr. Vergara is convinced that Mama Sita banana has a good commercial potential. He says that it could be cooked like Saba, best as fried. It can be eaten raw like a latundan. It is also excellent for making banana chips. During the last garden show in Los Banos, the banana chips were the bestseller in commercial booth of Dr. Vergara. All sold out, according to him.
The Mama Sita banana has its advantages over the local Saba. It is dwarf compared to Saba so that it is not easily toppled by typhoons. Dr. Vergara said that Typhoon Santi didn’t damage the plants. It also has a much shorter growing period. It will bear fruit in 12 months from planting compared to 14 to 16 months for Saba, according to Dr. Vergara. The tissue-cultured seedlings will be readyARI by early next year.
By Zac B. Sarian