‘Fusarium wilt’ bananas not attractive to buyers

DESPITE curbing the spread of the Fusarium wilt with the utilization of new variants, some small banana growers have lamented that there were some buyers complaining about the fruit of these variants.

Early this month, the regional office of the Department of Agriculture called up a meeting to address the complaints of some small growers who claimed that their buyers were complaining about their produce.
These growers were among those who started propagating the Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variant 218 (GCTCV 218), the most preferred new variant in relation to resisting Fusarium wilt, or better known as Panama disease because of its country of origin.
The other variant which is also resistant to the disease is the GCTCV 219, but most growers decided on the GCTCV 218 because of its high resistant characteristics.
Based on their complaint, the buyers were quite hesitant in accepting the fruits out of the new variants because of the taste and shape.
Stephen A. Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, said last week that growers of these new variants must come up with marketing strategies so that buyers will not use the bananas in seeking cheaper prices.
Antig said that when the propagation of the variant started about a year ago, what the industry was preparing for was the acceptability of the result.
“(What we were preparing for) was it was going to be (how to address the) question of acceptability of the market,” he said, as he pointed out that the fruits of the new variants differ with the usual Cavendish banana in terms of taste and even shape.
When the big companies started exporting the produce of the new variants, they cautioned the buyers about the notable differences between these new fruits and the usual fruits that were selling.
He said that usually, buyers would come up with “excuses” whenever there is glut in the production so they could negotiate for cheaper prices.
Antig advised growers to come up with longer marketing contracts with their buyers and that to be upfront in marketing their produce. “Negotiate for a longer contract to prevent them (buyers to come up with excuses,” he said.
He said the industry will continue doing research to improve these new varieties.
In March, the Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. (Tadeco) launched its modern laboratory which has a component for banana tissue culture.
Company president Anthony Alexander N. Valoria said the facility will help the industry address diseases like the Fusarium wilt to make the country competitive in the world market.

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