By CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO, Correspondent
DAVAO City — The regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has distributed banana seedlings resistant to Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease, to small farmers who have been affected by the infestation.
DA-Davao, which has allocated P20 million to fight the disease, said it is planning to distribute about one million Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variance 218 and 219, two of the seedlings that have been tested to be Fusarium wilt-resistant.
About 135,000 seedlings have been given out so far to 289 small banana growers who control a total farm area of 90 hectares, covering 10% of the target 900 hectares.
“We started the distribution of the seedlings January this year after we have collaborated with the private sector, particularly the Lapanday (Foods) Corp.,” said Susan T. Razo, DA-Davao’s integrated laboratory chief.
Lapanday, she explained, provided the laboratory where the cloning of the seedlings is being carried out. A contract was signed between the company and the DA.
Ms. Razo said a high-standard laboratory is the critical point in the production of the seedlings, particularly the selection process of the tissues that are to be cultured.
Maria Emilia Rita G. Fabregar, research group manager of Lapanday, said the impact of the disease on small banana growers affects the whole banana industry.
“(Managing) Panama disease is critical to the industry. We cannot confine ourselves on our own, we are willing to share what we are capable of,” said Ms. Fabregar.
Aside from the seedling distribution, the agency is also into implementing eradication, trichoderma application, and training farmers to mitigate the problem.
Ms. Razo said the farmers from outside Davao City have themselves been picking up the planting materials. “This shows the interest of the farmers to avail themselves of the assistance and willingness to provide the logistics, particularly the vehicle, fuel, and the labor during hauling.”
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