PGMA graces Saba Banana Integrated Program launch
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (6 January) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led the launching of the Saba Banana Integrated Development Program in this city yesterday (January 5) at the Marco Polo Hotel Grand Ballroom.
Sagrex Foods chief executive officer Ferdinand Maranon along with other partners like Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila presented the memorandum of agreement to the President.
The Saba Banana, identified as a priority export product of the region, has gained high demand from countries like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia. This pushed the DTI to come up with a project that would increase the processing of fresh banana into microwavable chips, fries and rolls.
Through Sagrex Food Inc., a pioneering exporter of microwavable Saba Banana to the United States and Canada, about 300 farmer beneficiaries will be given contracts to produce the said variety.
Maranon explained that a tissue culture laboratory and nursery were already established to support this project.
PGMA personally interacted with some of the beneficiaries in the project. Marcelo Luma from an Indigenous Peoples Farmers Group thanked the president for allowing the IP community benefit from this venture.
"Dakung tabang na kining nga proyekto sa pagpaskwela namo sa among mga anak," (This project is already a big help for us to send our kids to school.), Luma explained.
He is just one of the 300 other beneficiaries both from the Sugar Worker Farmers Group and the Indigenous Peoples Farmers Group.
They are given training on banana production as well as starter kits in banana production which consist of seedlings, farm tools, trainings and other inputs.
The Department of Science and Technology will provide product development assistance.
The current saba production is estimated at ten tons a year. With the program in full operation, production is expected to rise to 30 to 40 tons a year.
A farmer with a two hectare plantation can earn up to P360, 000 annually in every contracted floor price of P7 per kilo.
SAGREX Food Inc will then handle the export marketing having gained additional new markets. It has already shipped out its first 20 metric tons of frozen banana to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Now it has widened its market including Canada, United States, and other Asian countries. (PIA XI) [top]