TO improve the quality of the locally-produced banana one has to adapt technologies that produce plants that are free of diseases, yield better, and have the qualities the market is looking for.
Agriculturist and businessman Johann Go of Green Asia Agri-Ventures (GAAG) is one of the few who has ventured into banana tissue culture production in Davao City to provide all these.
“Tissue culture is a process where we replicate one healthy stem to a thousand. Such are transferred into an artificial environment with a specific set of nutrients and hormones. It’s important as it results to more fruitful plants with a higher survival rate,” Go said.
The process is important now because of the diseases that threaten bananas these days, Go added.
“It was my dad who introduced me to this venture. Copying from what I had seen, we started out with just one laboratory and the rest is history,” Go said.
In 2014, Reynaldo Go together with his brother George studied the diseases that have been devastating banana plantations. Spread of fusarium wilt on bananas worsened after the 2012 typhoon Pablo and the crop is also threatened by bunchy top virus. This led the brothers to start Green Asia and produce healthier banana variants suited for export.
Like any venture, the start was not easy as some associate it with genetically modified food, however, both persisted until they made a breakthrough.
“My father emphasized that tissue culture is quite different from Genetically Modified Organisms as it deals with the manipulation of genes to get better results,” Go emphasized.
Out of the 30 to 40 million banana seedlings required per year, GAAG supplies jsut around 2-million to different banana plantations in the Philippines including Fresh Del Monte Inc. and ARR Banana Exporters.
At present, the company is expecting an increase in demand for the coming years with the recent China-Philippine ties.
“It’s a good thing how the Philippines and China grew close amid all the furor. It was late last year that they lifted the ban of Philippine banana exports. This is a great opportunity that we widen the scale of our operation. We are expecting a massive increase in demand,” Go said.