MinDA eyes use of banana rejects for children nourishment

By Ali G. Macabalang

A photo derived from video footage of MinDA Chairman Manny Pinol’s ocular on-the-spot interview with an official of a successful Cavendish banana farm in Valencia City, Bukidnon.

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Cavendish banana production, one of the country’s top dollar-earning and local jobs-generating industries, has been posting hefty output rejects of no use or value – a largely unknown fact that has caught attention lately from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in its innovative thrusts.

MinDA Chairman Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol revealed this opportunity-laced production odd in his Sunday, August 1 leg of serial live video footages he made from an ocular visit of the Manupali Agro-Development Corporation (MADC) Cavendish Banana farm in Valencia City, Bukidnon.

In a two-minute footage at the foreground of the MADC’s rejects pond, Sec. Pinol and two resident-officials disclosed that eight percent (8%) of the gross production of the firm’s 471-hectare farm could not fit to foreign and local market standards, and therefore becoming wastes.

The interviewees said the MADC employs some 1,000 workers and is exporting an average of 4,000 boxes at 13-kilo each of “class A” Cavendish banana per year, posting 8% wastes not suitable to foreign and local markets.

The rejects are either given out to workers’ groups to feed their animals or process these into chips or flours, with the rest simply dumped in areas that often turn naturally into organic soil elements, they disclosed.

Out of some 90,000-hectare Cavendish farms across Mindanao, a glaring average of one million-ton rejects is posted in an annual production, Sec. Piñol estimated in his narrative.

“We will come up with a project to make use of this (hefty production waste),” Sec. Piñol said in the conclusion of his video clip.

He said MinDA will “look for partners” in a venture that can process the banana waste into flour to supply government and humanitarian organizations involved in addressing child malnutrition.

A considerable number of Filipino children belonging to poor and less affluent families suffer from malnutrition, state data showed.

Observers said Sec. Piñol’s plan is “highly probable,” citing some nutritious children supplementary feeds brands, a notable of which is the Cerelac which remains sold out in the market using banana-based powder concoction.

Dr. Adrian Tamayo, MinDA media public affairs and media relations chief, corroborated Sec. Pinol’s intent, echoing a popular saying that “in every problem lies an opportunity to harness.”

Tamayo said the Piñol administration has upgraded the MinDA operations, notably in introducing “innovative means” ranging from unprecedented aquatic and agriculture-based productions, energy development via solar powers, and convergent infrastructure projects implementation to fortification of field monitoring ways to curb corruption.

Sec. Piñol promotes modern technologies for amplified rice production and other value crops productions, featuring successes in combating oddities in the aqua-agriculture sector such as the recent discovery of formula against pests’ invasion of banana farms in Mindanao. (Read a separate MinDA story about banana farm pest infection.) [AGM]

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