By Che Palicte

Department of Agriculture–Davao Region (DA-11) Director Abel James Monteagudo. (Photo from DA-11)

DAVAO CITY – To combat the spread of fusarium wilt or Panama disease, the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) has underscored the need to expand banana varieties for export through increased marketing efforts.

DA-11 Director Abel James Monteagudo said that as part of the initiative, the DA-Research is currently conducting a value-adding study on cardava flour and banana fiber for paper and textiles for commercialization.

“There are more things to do and more challenges to tackle and the more we are united, the more we can come up with solutions and help improve our banana industry. China reveres our banana over the rest of its banana exporters,” Monteagudo said in a statement Monday.

Last week, Monteagudo convened banana industry stakeholders to propose initiatives aimed at tackling the issues of pest control and diseases, limited access to processing materials, input cost subsidies and implementing a fixed price.

Meanwhile, Gil Dureza, the regional chief investment specialist at Board of Investments, said it is important to adhere to global sanitary and phytosanitary standards for banana products to be acceptable for export.

Dureza also recommended collaborating with universities to create value-added banana products.

In February this year, at least 150 banana growers whose plantations were infected with fusarium wilt shifted to corn farming in Davao del Norte province.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen that is attracted to banana plants. It can remain dormant for 30 to 50 years.

The fusarium fungi clog the plant’s vascular system, depriving it of necessary nutrients and moisture, ultimately causing it to turn yellow and die. (PNA)