Banana is one of the most common and grown fruit crops in the Philippines . It is also one of the country's major dollar earners, and has consistently ranked next to coconut oil and prawns in terms of value earnings during the last five years.
The Philippines ranks 4 th among the banana producing countries in the world sharing 6% of the world output (FAO, 1998). The leading banana producing countries include India , sharing 17% of the world production; Equador, 13%; Brazil , 9%; China , 6% and Indonesia , 5%. Other important banana producing countries include Costa Rica , Colombia , Mexico and Thailand with an aggregate share of 12.9%.
During the last five years, the area devoted to production of banana in the country ranges from 326,900 ha in 1994 to 337,082 ha in 1998 with an average growth rate of 0.2%. Production, on the other hand, increased from 3.2 million mt in 1994 to 3.56 million mt in 1998 or an average growth rate of 0.22%. The value of production also increased from P 10.564 billion in 1993 to P 14.981 billion in 1997 or an average annual growth rate of 8.6%.
Of the different cultivars, ‘ Saba ' accounts for the highest production of 39%. This is followed by ‘Cavendish' (32%); ‘Lakatan' (13%); ‘Latundan' (8%); ‘Bungulan' (5%); and other cultivars (3%).
On regional basis, Southern Mindanao tops banana production with 1,580,963 mt in 1998 and accounts for 44.4% of the national production despite utilizing only 14.2% of the total area. This is followed by Central Mindanao, CARAGA, Cagayan Valley and Western Visayas which produced 343,601, 232,196, 229,463 and 228,247 mt, respectively.
The trend for banana export is increasing. In 1994, 1,172,200 mt was exported and increased to 1,38,700 mt in 1999 or an average increase of 2.5% annually. Export consisted of fresh fruits representing 90% with the remaining balance in the form of chips, crackers, catsup, flour and blossoms. The foreign markets for Philippine banana include Japan , 63%; South Korea , 9%; United Arab Emirate, 7% and Taiwan , 6%. The cultivar exported is largely ‘Cavendish'. While there is a big demand for ‘Lakatan' and ‘Latundan' in the export markets, the country has limited supply. Likewise, there is a big demand for export of banana chips but the Philippines suffers from shortage of raw materials which is largely ‘ Saba '/ ‘Cardaba'. Banana is utilized as food (46%), export (34%), processing (16%) and feed/ waste (4%).
As to local demand, the annual per capita consumption is only 22 kg which is considered low. For better nutrition, it is suggested that consumption be doubled to 44 kg/year.
Management of banana farms is characterized by dichotomous nature. On one side is a highly managed farm which uses the state of the art technology in growing banana as exemplified by large plantations catering to export markets. On the other side are production systems with minimal input as done by small farmers in the country.
In terms of marketing, the middlemen and traders are the main players in the domestic market. The export industry, on the other hand, is in the hands of multi-national companies. In the countryside, bananas are sold on finger count basis while in the urban areas; these are sold on weight basis.