Banana expansion poses threat to food security
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (13 September) -- The rapidly expanding land area devoted to banana is seen as a threat to food security in the province of Davao del Norte.
Provincial agriculture chief Dominador Encarnacion feared that local rice production would, in the long run, would not be enough to feed Davao del Norte's population which counts to almost a million.
"What if we would no longer import rice?" he asked as he projected that the estimated 5 tons per hectare of rice would eventually run short for one million residents.
Year 2005 Annual Report from the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) bared a decrease in area coverage of rice and corn production "due to conversion of some areas to banana plantations."
The report showed that total rice production in 2005 was calculated at 173,851 metric tons, showing a difference of 25,235 metric tons or a 12.67 percent decrease from 199,087 metric tons recorded in 2004.
"This decrease can be attributed to the reduction of rice areas during the year," from 45,766.35 hectares in 2004 to 41,128.21 hectares in 2005.
But contrary to what was feared, PPDO computed the rice sufficiency level at 101.90 percent.
Meanwhile, banana production of the province posted a seven percent increase from 841,270.68 metric tons in 2004 to 899,402.43 metric tons in 2005 out of the 638 noted increase in areas harvested from 25,582 hectares in 2004 to 26,220 hectares in 2005.
Cavendish banana for export was noted to have continued raking huge income for the province in 2005 while there was a noted low demand for local banana variety particularly cardava, during the year.
However, Encarnacion said this year's demand for cardava banana chips had surged "and in fact, supply is running out for banana chips production."
As farmers are getting much from banana production due to large demand and high return of investments, they have opted to shift from rice production.
"As of now there is no law prohibiting rice farmers from shifting to other agriculture crops," Encarnacion said.
Encarnacion is hopeful that the study, which tries to assess thct of massive conversion to banana production, will finally come up with reliable data for the House of Representatives to consider a policy to address the depleting rice production areas. (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]