Improved Farming Technology Works For Banana Farmers in Isabela
Smallhold banana growers in Isabela gave more reasons to continue planting banana the natural way now that they have proven that improved farming technology can do wonders for them.
And why not? Their naturally produced bananas have found a sure market. One is Japan, which requires 3,500 boxes of Bongulan banana weekly. A box contains 13 kilograms (kg), so that’s a total of 45,500 kg a week. The bigger market is Korea that buys from them 685,000 kg a week or roughly 52,692 boxes weighing 13 kg per box.
This was learned from Dr. Biley Temanel of Isabela State University (ISU) during the recent General Membership Assembly of the National Research Council of the Philippines. He said that the opening of the export market for Isabela banana growers is the result of the marketing agreement forged with the Center for Organic Farming and Integrated Rural Development or CORDEV which now serves as their marketing outlet.
Dr. Temanel is one of the principal researchers on the project called “Enhancing Smallhold Banana Production in lsabela”. It has been responsible in the improvement of the productivity and quality of the produce by banana growers in Isabela, the leading producer of banana in Cagayan Valley.
The said project was jointly implemented by ISU and the Department of Agrarian Reform-Isabela Provincial Office in collaboration with local government units, BIODIVERSITY International (formerly INIBAP), and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) from June 2005 to June 2008.
Dr. Temanel said that the project has, helped smallhold banana growers in Isabela through application of appropriate technologies on banana production system and postharvest handling, organization of banana growers for more access to technology and marketing assistance, and partnership with LGUs, private sectors and other stakeholders.
On the production system, for instance, the growers are taught firsthand on the use of tissue-cultured planting materials which are guaranteed true-to-type and free from dreaded banana diseases such as bunchy-top virus and mosaic. Dr. Temanel said that Isabela banana growers plant the Bongulan and Grand Name cultivars that are primarily preferred by the export markets.
Another important factor is the fertilization program which has increased the yields of the banana plants. Farmers combine organic fertilizer with slow-release inorganic , fertilizer which, according to Dr. TemaneI, provides the necessary elements needed by the plants while maintaining its being natural.
Aside from these, the growers were taught on the use of gibberellic acid spray, biological methods of pest control; removal of style, perianth and male bud; stem and mat sanitation; mulching; irrigation and drainage; deleafing; sucker pruning; propping; and bagging.
Data from the project showed that the adoption of improved technologies and practices resulted in increase in production and income of smallhold banana growers by 37.07 percent and 24.46 percent, respectively.
Right now, Temanel said that there is a need to expand banana plantation to sustain the requirement of the export market. That is why ISU and other concerned agencies are undertaking massive advocacy, training, and the provision of financial and marketing assistance for the banana farmers whose 80-90 percent are now engaged in natural farming, he said.
By Melpha M. Abello