Proper in­puts can en­hance banana pro­duc­tion

Agriculture - - Contents - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

BANANA re­mains one of the most pop­u­lar fruits be­cause it is avail­able fresh all year-round and is much cheaper com­pared to other trop­i­cal fruits.

They are clas­si­fied ei­ther as dessert bananas or as green cook­ing bananas. It can be a de­li­cious ad­di­tion to fruit sal­ads or peeled and eaten as it is. Ac­cord­ing to the Food and Nu­tri­tion Re­search In­sti­tute of the De­part­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST-FNRI), banana is a good source of fiber, vi­ta­min C, and potas­sium.

Potas­sium is a min­eral which is im­por­tant for con­trol­ling the body’s fluid bal­ance. It is also needed for mus­cle con­trac­tion, trans­mis­sion of nerve im­pulses, and the proper func­tion­ing of the heart and kid­neys. Potas­sium helps reg­u­late water bal­ance and blood pres­sure in cells, to­gether with other min­er­als like sodium, cal­cium, and mag­ne­sium. Bananas in gen­eral con­tain 400 mil­ligrams of potas­sium. Most in­di­vid­u­als re­ceive ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 to 3,000 mil­ligrams of potas­sium from var­i­ous foods.

They are also rich in vi­ta­mins A, C, K, and B6, and in fiber and mag­ne­sium. Lack of vi­ta­min B6 in the diet can cause weak­ness, ir­ri­tabil­ity, and in­som­nia. Con­sid­er­ing these great health ben­e­fits, the banana is truly a won­der­ful and de­li­cious fruit, and af­ford­able too.

The FNRI ex­plained that the banana is the most unique fruit be­cause it does not come from trees, but from large plants that are gi­ant herbs re­lated to the lily and or­chid fam­i­lies.

The vol­ume of pro­duc­tion of banana in the coun­try went up by 3.1 per­cent from 2.33 mil­lion met­ric tons (mt) for the pe­riod Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber 2016 to 2.41 mil­lion mt dur­ing the same pe­riod of 2017, based on data from the Philippine Sta­tis­tics Au­thor­ity (PSA).

The in­crease can be at­trib­uted to ad­di­tional bear­ing hills from the ex­pan­sion ar­eas of es­tab­lished banana plan­ta­tions due to the in­creas­ing de­mand, and big­ger sizes of fruits de­vel­oped as a re­sult of fewer weather dis­tur­bances in some banana pro­duc­ing ar­eas. Davao Re­gion was the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to to­tal pro­duc­tion with 37.4 per­cent or 901.53 thou­sand mt, fol­lowed by North­ern Min­danao with 20.2 per­cent, and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cota­bato, Cota­bato, Sul­tan Ku­darat, Sarangani, and Gen­eral San­tos City) with 13.5 per­cent. Data also showed that more than half or 51.4 per­cent of the to­tal pro­duc­tion of banana was of the Cavendish va­ri­ety.

The in­crease in pro­duc­tion can also be at­trib­uted to the big­ger bunches har­vested from the banana farms which have ap­plied tech­nolo­gies and bet­ter in­puts to im­prove their pro­duc­tion. One such group that ap­plied new in­puts and tech­nolo­gies to their plan­ta­tions is the Manuel Guianga Multi-Pur­pose Co­op­er­a­tive (MGMPC) in Tug­bok, Davao City.

Banana, par­tic­u­larly the Cavendish va­ri­ety, re­quires in­ten­sive la­bor and bet­ter in­puts to grow to a prof­itable vol­ume. Er­ratic weather con­di­tions, like the El Niño and La Niña phe­nomenona, af­fected the growth of banana plants, caus­ing the yel­low­ing of leaves. This causes pro­duc­tion losses and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the banana plants, lead­ing to poor qual­ity of the fruit. To ad­dress the con­cern, the group used Amino Plus Fo­liar Fer­til­izer or APFF.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of APFF was done on a weekly ba­sis dur­ing nor­mal weather con­di­tions, and ev­ery 15 days dur­ing the rainy days. Dur­ing the dry pe­ri­ods, they can­not ap­ply ground sup­port to their plan­ta­tion, which re­quires the ap­pli­ca­tion of fo­liar fer­til­iz­ers. In the six months of the dry sea­son, plants were able to sur­vive the harsh weather, which re­sulted in the bet­ter con­di­tion of the banana leaves and the plant growth it­self. This also helped the banana plants be­come stur­dier, and they even­tu­ally pro­duced big­ger banana bunches. On the re­cov­ery side, they were able to at­tain be­tween 30 and 40 per­cent.

For the pro­por­tions of in­put ap­pli­ca­tion for ground sup­port, the group uses Suzuki or­ganic fer­til­izer (about 60 per­cent) in tan­dem with APFF (25 per­cent).

For ev­ery hectare, their plan­ta­tion can ac­com­mo­date at least 2,200 banana plants. It was learned that they got a har­vest where a box could be filled up to 13.5 ki­los each, and the bananas were ex­port qual­ity at that.

But they had to be ex­tra care­ful to main­tain the qual­ity of their pro­duce, where the work be­gins from land prepa­ra­tion to plant­ing of the bulbs, pro­tect­ing the banana bunches from the ef­fects of strong winds and pest in­fes­ta­tions, in­clud­ing ex­treme weather con­di­tions. And when har­vest time came, the MGMPC work­ers had to pick, sort, pack, and main­tain the qual­ity of the bananas un­til they reached their ex­port des­ti­na­tions.

Dam­age to agri­cul­tural crops due to weather dis­tur­bances can be pre­vented or min­i­mized with the proper ap­pli­ca­tion of farm in­puts, like or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers and other re­lated prod­ucts. Plants sprayed with APFF are more re­sis­tant to dis­eases and other stresses in the field like drought or flood­ing. When sprayed, it ef­fec­tively ad­heres to the plant’s sur­face and provides quick sup­ple­men­ta­tion. APFF boosts the growth and pro­duc­tiv­ity of banana plants and other crops like rice, corn, veg­eta­bles, fruit trees, and or­na­men­tals.

Banana re­mains one of the most pop­u­lar fruits be­cause it is read­ily avail­able and much cheaper com­pared to other trop­i­cal fruits.The Cavendish va­ri­ety in par­tic­u­lar re­quires in­ten­sive la­bor and bet­ter in­puts to grow to a prof­itable vol­ume.

Dur­ing har­vest time, farm work­ers have to pick, sort, pack, and main­tain the qual­ity of the bananas un­til they reach their ex­port des­ti­na­tions.

Banana farm­ers have to be ex­tra care­ful to main­tain the qual­ity of their pro­duce, where the work be­gins from land prepa­ra­tion to plant­ing of the bulbs, pro­tect­ing the banana bunches from the ef­fects of strong wind and pest in­fes­ta­tions, in­clud­ing ex­treme weather con­di­tions.

Dam­age to agri­cul­tural crops due to weather dis­tur­bances can be pre­vented or min­i­mized with the proper ap­pli­ca­tion of farm in­puts, like or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers and other re­lated prod­ucts. The ap­pli­ca­tion of APFF was done on a weekly ba­sis dur­ing nor­mal weather con­di­tions, and ev­ery 15 days dur­ing the rainy days.

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