Research on identifying a Panama disease-resistant banana variety is still ongoing by the Philipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), President Stephen Antig said on Friday. Based on the latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA), around 15,000 hectares of banana plantations are already affected by the Panama disease in Mindanao alone.
"Once the plantation had been affected by the Panama disease, the farmers can no longer plant the same variety, thus, a need to develop a new variety resistant of this disease," Antig added. According to Antig, there had been several varieties that were developed but are still on observation stages.
"We continue to test if these are indeed the varieties we need. Research is a very long process, that's why it is also very expensive. We should not stop in identifying these varieties," Antig said, adding that the process they are using is natural selection and not genetic engineering.
He estimated that because of this Panama disease affecting banana plantations in Mindanao, the industry loses around US$333 million.