• SPAMAST builds P7-million banana facility in Davao

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    THE Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (Spamast) is putting up a P7-million banana facility in Davao del Sur to promote Philippine standards on good agricultural and manufacturing practices of banana and its value-added products.

    With funding support from the Commission on Higher Education, the initial five-hectare banana technology innovation center also aims to strengthen the capability of the school’s faculty and students in research and development and in the delivery of its extension services.

    At the ceremonial launching of the banana facility held Friday in Barangay Kapoc, Spamast President Dr. Irvin Generalao said the country’s banana industry is one of the biggest exporters in the world.

    In 2012 alone, Generalao said Davao Region produced at least 3.79 million metric tons of banana, “which comprised 41 percent of the country’s total banana production that year according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.”

    The Mindanao Development Authority also reported that banana accounted for 14.94 percent of Mindanao’s more than $3 billion worth of agricultural exports during the same year.

    Generalao underscored that despite the relatively good export performance of banana industry in recent years, banana producers and exporters in Mindanao are still beset by growing demand for higher quality bananas abroad.

    “Diseases such as Fusarium wilt and Black Sigatoka as well as phytosanitary issues are among the challenges that the banana industry must hurdle in order to meet the growing demand for banana in the international market,” he said.

    Generalao added that domestic demand for local varieties such as ‘saba,’ lakatan, and latundan is also increasing. “Even in the country, the supply of our local banana varieties is still wanting.”

    He pointed out that aside from the infestation of pests and diseases, the supply shortfall of local banana varieties can be also attributed to the decline of production areas following the devastation brought by Typhoon Pablo in 2012 and other climatic changes.

    Generalao said that the facility is hoped to contribute to efforts that will address the challenges of the banana industry not just in the province of Davao del Sur but also in the whole of Mindanao.

    “The facility is furnished with equipment required by the Philippine good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices,” said Generalao, adding that it shall also serve as a demo-farm for experts on banana diseases and production.

    Spamast will start the construction of the banana technology innovation center and the planting of bananas next month.

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