P270M allotted for banana industry

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) is allotting P270.7 million for research and development for the banana sector as well as the promotion of edible landscape (EL) urban gardening.

    The amount will be used to bankroll efforts to produce banana varieties resistant to fusarium wilt as well as other initiatives that will increase the production of quality bananas for the domestic and export markets.

    DA Secretary William Dar said P100 million will come from the the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act as a counterpart fund to rehabilitate disease-affected banana areas in Mindanao for big and small growers and exporters.

    Dar urged the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters to match the P100 million allotment for the program to make the project more sustainable.

    The initiative involves the establishment of a system to ensure production via tissue culture of quality banana varities that are resistant to diseases.

    For the first seven months of the year, the Philippines exported $1.034-billion worth of fresh bananas, down by 10.7 percent from last year’s level of $1.158 billion, attributed to the effects of the plant disease in Mindanao.

    In addition to the P100 million seed fund for the planned research center, the DA will also implement the Saba Industry Development Program with funding of P120 million to cover the provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, and Agusan Del Norte in Mindanao; Samar and Leyte in the Visayas; and Apayao, Cagayan, Quezon and Oriental Mindoro in Luzon.

    The remaining P42.7 million fund will be under the agency’s high-value crops development program for various banana industry initiatives that include production and distribution of quality planting materials; upgrading of 14 tissue culture laboratories; control and management of pests and diseases; procurement and distribution of farm machinery; and conduct of trainings, among others.

    The DA through the Bureau of Agricultural Research extended P8 million to University of the Philippines-Los Baños to finance a joint EL project that aims to apply basic landscaping principles and aesthetics with crop production to further engage households to grow their own supply of vegetables. – Jed Macapagal