THE Municipal Agriculture Office of La Castellana has noted a “lesser” impact of the dry spell brought about by El Niño phenomenon to the locality's banana production.
Ismael Montiflor, banana coordinator of La Castellana, said banana is succulent so it can tolerate extreme heat.
Montiflor said banana, particularly its trunk, is even utilized as cover or shade for other crops like vegetables.
“We have observed good growth of banana fruit this month despite the depleting sources of water especially among upland farms,” he said.
Records of the Municipal Agriculture Office showed that there are about 500 hectares of sporadic banana farms in all 13 barangays of La Castellana.
Vast areas of these backyard-type farms are located in Barangays Cabagnaan, Sag-ang, Mansalanao and Masulog.
In terms of production, farmers produce at least 40 tons every month, which are being sold to local markets including those in Bacolod City.
Of the volume, bulk are “sab-a” or cardaba. Other varieties are latundan and balangon.
Banana is one of the major agricultural commodities of La Castellana.
In fact, it is currently hosting the 22nd Banana Festival mainly to promote the products of local banana farmers.
Aside from backyard farms, the town also hosts a 17-hectare banana plantation run by a private company in Barangay Lalagsan.
The farm has a monthly production of 27 tons which are being exported to China.
On top of the existing 17-hectare plantation, it has a newly planted area of six hectares and targets to add 12 hectares more.
Instead of the dry spell, what banana farmers in the locality should brace for is the occurrence of pest and diseases like fungus.
Montiflor said fungus infestation among bananas is prevalent during rainy season, especially from June to October.
It is manifested by the blackening of fruits, which can really affect its growth, Montiflor said.
“Farmers are advised to clean their banana farms through under brushing or weeding to prevent fungus growth in the area,” he said, adding that cuts caused by surrounding plants like weeds can be an entry of fungi and other organisms.
He recalled that there was a drop of almost 50 percent in the locality’s banana production last year.
This was mainly because of fungal diseases like sigatoka and bunchy top.
Montiflor said farmers were advised to plant in other areas and given other technical assistance to mitigate the effects of pests and diseases.
“Hopefully, we can further recover this year,” he said, adding that close monitoring is being conducted among banana farms in their town.