ON MAMA SITA: Dr. Gus Molina’s Comment And Our Response

THE MAMA SITA BANANA SUCCESS STORY

W are quoting in full below the comment of Dr. Agustin “Gus” Molina, foremost banana expert in the country, after we posted the story about Mama Sita that the late Dr. Benito S. Vergara brought into the country through a research project that lasted from 2007 to 2011. Here we go:

“This is a good banana variety that was introduced from Thailand. It is a variant of our Lagkitan. This variety was introduced in BPI genebank in Davao through IPGR (Bioversity) in the early 1980s. It is universally named Pisang Awak. In Thailand, it is called Kluai Namwa. These names are similar to naming our popular Lakatan. We have evaluated this variety for many years already. This was adapted (sic) and promoted for commercial interest by a local company and named it Mama Sita. This is inappropriate from the view point of technical and universal naming of a variety. It is inappropriate as anyone naming our Lakatan with a commercial brand anywhere. The synonym name of Pisang Awak in the Philippine is “Lagkitan” not Mama Sita, according to the book of the late Dr. Ramon Valmayor, foremost Filipino global banana taxonomist. Personally, I disagree naming a well known variety with a known commercial name. Bioversity has spent much efforts in evaluating and promoting this variety in the country and in Southeast Asia.”

Well, well. So Mama Sita, according to Dr. Molina, “is a good banana variety that was introduced from Thailand. It is a variant of our Lagkitan. This was introduced in BPI genebank in Davao through IPGR (Bioversity) in the early 1980s.” 

So what  happened after the introduction of the variety in the early 1980s? Was there a conscious effort to promote cultivation of the variety to our farmers? Apparently there was none.

I don’t have any quarrel about the viewpoint of a scientist regarding the inappropriateness of naming a universally named variety with a commercial name. But what I appreciate more is what the late Dr. Vergara did to spread the good news about Mama Sita.

Dr. Vergara was working on a research project funded by PCAARRD, DA-BAR and Mama Sita Foundation. Although a research project was not supposed to produce planting materials for commercial sale, Dr. Vergara had to order the tissue-culturing of Mama Sita to meet the clamor of farmers for planting materials. 

More quote from Dr. Molina: “Personally, I disagree naming a well known variety with a known commercial name. Bioversity has spent much efforts in evaluating and promoting this variety in the country and Southeast Asia.”

Well, what we appreciate more is that with what Dr. Vergara did, so many farmers have become the beneficiary of his efforts. One of the early growers of Mama Sita is Dr. Rene Sumaoang of Tarlac who planted two hectares to Mama Sita several years back. Up to now, he is harvesting a lot of fruits which he sells through their outlet in Valenzuela City. He tells us that many banana-cue makers in Tarlac love Mama Sita because it makes very good banana-cue. We are sure so many others are enjoying the fruits of their Mama Sita, and the income from the sale of their harvests.

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