Growing Cash Crop Bananas in the Philippines

We have about 25 banana plants on our property in the Philippines. They’re not trees, but “pseudostems,” made of densely packed leaves. So a banana plant is actually a perennial herb, like a lily or an orchid. First of all, don’t take my word for it. That’s what woot.com says.  

PCARRD Praises the Banana

Furthermore, did you know that the banana is the most economically important fruit crop in the Philippines? I didn’t.

However, PCARRD states that it is. PCARRD? No, not Patrick Stewart’s character in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” PCARRD stands for the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development

PCARRD also pronounces that the banana “is the only locally-grown fruit available year-round.”

Did you know or did you care?

The Philippines is the only Asian country to be included in the list of the top four leading banana exporting nations.

Now, who’s claiming that? Well, the UN FAO, of course. Here’s another acronym for you: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Three South America countries round out the top four. Ecuador (which provides more than 30 percent of global banana exports), Costa Rica, and Colombia.

These four countries account for about two-thirds of the world’s exports. Each country exports more than one million tons of bananas annually.

Is it a Banana or a Plantain?

“Banana” usually refers to soft, sweet “dessert” bananas that are usually eaten raw.

Generally used for cooking are plantains. They’re firmer, starchier fruit. Personally, I’d like to be firmer but my age is catching up with me.

Popular Filipino Bananas

What are the most popular types of bananas grown in the Philippines?

  • Latundan

  • Lakatan

  • Saba

I consulted with my Filipina wife who started helping out on the family farm at the age of seven. She informs me that we have latundan and saba bananas on our property but no lakatan.

“Yes! We have no lakatan, we have-a no lakatan today,” sung to the tune of “Yes! We have no banana,” for you old geezers out there.

Grown mostly in the backyard with minimum care and management are bananas. We just hack off the dead leaves with a bolo occasionally. My wife dumps dried leaves and food scraps around the base of each banana “stem.”

Depending on how big your initial “stem” is, it can take around two years to get your first crop of bananas.

Cavendish is the export variety grown by commercial banana plantations in the southern Philippines, particularly in Davao. Cavendish is the brand I usually see in the produce section of the big supermarket chains like SM Supermarkets. Again, I’m informed by my asawa that the Mindanao region also grows a lot of lakantan.

I used to only eat Cavendish bananas, the variety I could get in the States. However, I now eat lakatan which my wife can purchase at our local market. However, I don’t devour as many as I used to since they have a tendency to plug up my “pooper.”

For the local market, the most profitable variety to grow is lakatan. “Fresh lakatan is very popular in the market,” PCARRD said. “However, supply does not always meet the high demand, especially in Luzon.”

How Profitable is it to grow lakatan?

According to PCARRD, even if you plant just one-fourth of the farm to banana, you will have an annual net profit of P24,000, 480 US dollars, in the second year and will shoot up to P69,000, $,1380, in the ninth year.

If you plant the whole farm with banana, you will get an annual net profit of P121,000, $2,420, in the second year and then P304,000, $6,080, in the ninth year.

However, you’ll need a lot of land, space for the bananas, my knowledgeable wife informs me. (The article I retrieved this information from doesn’t specify how much land you need for their banana cash crop quotes.)

Want the full scoop on recommendations for growing bananas? Check out this article from EdgeDAVAO which supplied some of the material for this post.

While the article recommends a vast array of supplies to start your banana production, you need one basic tool to start with:

THE BOLO

Growing Cash Crop Bananas in the Philippines

With a little planning, some elbow grease and sweat equity, you, too, can make bananas a cash crop to generate some extra income. My British friend Paul and JanethToplis in Guimaras have been harvesting and selling bananas for years.

Why not you?

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