Banana is considered the top export of the Philippines. It is one of the major fruit crop, not just in the country but also in other Asian neighboring nations. Because the development of banana production is very fast, bananas are the fourth largest fruit crop in the entire world.
According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, or PCARRD, which is based in Laguna, the most economically important fruit crop in the Philippines is the banana because it is the only locally-grown fruit available in the market throughout the year. In the international scale, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has included Philippines as the only Asian country in the list of top four leading banana exporting nations. Among other countries are from South America: Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia. These four countries export more than one million tons of bananas each, respectively.
There are several banana plant varieties grown in the country. These kinds can even be grown in one’s backyard since they require only minimum care and management. The most common are the latundan, lakatan, and saba. The Southern part of the country, particularly Davao, has also an export variety – Cadevish – grown by local banana plantations.
- Latundan – The most common banana cultivars grown in Southeast Asia. Cultivars are plant varieties that are produced in cultivation by selective breeding. It can grow up to 10 feet tall. Aside being round, its fruit is seedless. Its peel color is yellow and the flesh is white when ripe.
- Lakatan – This is the most profitable variety to grow. Because of its high demand in the market, the supply cannot meet especially to some parts northern part of the country. When it is still unripe, its peel is green and yellow-orange when ripe.
- Saba – Its English name is Cardava. This variety originates only in the Philippines, and it is primarily banana in the Filipino cuisine. Sometimes it is eaten raw. The stem of the Saba is the largest and tallest of all the banana kind. It can grow up to 20 feet. The shape of the Saba fruit is stubby and highly angular.
- Cadevish – These cultivars have been the most internationally traded bananas since 1950. It is the export quality that grows to 10 feet high.
Banana planting in the Philippines requires high capital, needs heavy management, and entails high risk. Much labor and planning is needed to complete the process of banana plantation. For example, for every one hectare land can grow two thousand seedlings or plants. Since fruit production is a large scale business, one also needs people who will work for the setting of the bamboo poles, and other banana farming needs like the pesticide, fungicide, and insecticide. The banana industry, furthermore, has also a formidable threat. Panama, a banana soil borne disease that attacks from the roots, causes the plants to die naturally. However, this disease can be treated through the technology of tissue culture banana cultivation.
To enter the world market one has to apply good management practices and banana farming techniques before one can be competitive in this industry. Learn the following banana planting methods and tips before plunging into this business.
Select the Soil
Southern Mindanao Integral Research Center says, “Banana plants require moist, deep, fertile, and well-drained soil.” Soils of this type with 45% clay, 70% silt, 80% loam are best for the growth of bananas. Bananas are sensitive to standing water, so planting them in the area where water is easily drained is the best. Ask also assistance from the Department of Agriculture in the area if there is uncertainty about the farm’s condition.
Saba, for instance, can be grown in different types of soil but, if it is planted in deep and friable soil with a drainage system and enough aeration, can yield to higher production and better fruit quality.
Consider the Climate
After the soil, the next thing to consider is the atmospheric condition of the plantation in the area. Bananas are tropical giant herbs. They best grow in warm temperatures. The temperature that is favorable is between 27-30 degrees Celsius. The ideal sites for bananas are those areas with an average rainfall of 4,000 millimeters (mm) a year.
Prepare Planting Materials
There are three necessary planting materials in banana farming. Suckers are generally used in propagating. These vertical shoots arising from the mother plants are 100-150 centimeters in height. Tissue culture plantlets are also recommended for planting suckers. The size and age of the sucker varies; hence, the crop will not be uniform. This makes the harvesting will be prolonged and crop management becomes difficult. Lastly, select corms from disease-free mother plants that are about 10-15 centimeters. Make sure that each corm has at least one good bud.