PONCHIT PONCE ENRILE who manages a commercial farm in Lipa City was upbeat in explaining to us that Saba banana can be a highly profitable crop to grow in Luzon where the price is higher than in Mindanao.
He says that with the right management practices, one mat (that’s what we usually call a hill, usually 2 plants) can produce two bunches in the second year after planting. Each bunch is about 180 to 200 pieces of fruits which usually sell at P2 each ex-farm in Luzon. That means 360 to 400 pieces in one year per hill worth P720 to P800. There are 2,000 hills in one hectare. That means one hectare can yield 720,000 to 800,000 fruits worth P1,440,000 to P1,600,000 in one year.
Right management means that the plantation has to be weeded and old leaves regularly removed. Fertilizer is very important. Each mat or hill should be fertilized with 50 grams of urea or 75 grams of ammonium sulfate per month. Upon shooting, when the new leaves become shorter in preparation for blossom emergence, add 50 grams of muriate of potash (0-0-60) per hill.
In the farm that Ponchit is managing in Lipa, they have 500 hills of Saba banana. He says that they can gross P360,000 a year or P1,000 per day from one-fourth hectare. The cost of producing Saba banana is less than the production cost of Lakatan.
Ponchit points out that Saba banana is resistant to diseases and is also more drought-resistant than Lakatan. Lakatan, he says, requires much more water than Saba. When drought overtakes Lakatan, expect a very poor harvest, he said.
Saba banana is used in making banana chips for export and local sales. It can be eaten as boiled banana. It can be made into “turon”, banana-cue, and other preparations. Doctors also recommend eating the ripe fruit uncooked. So there you are, plant Saba banana but be sure to take good care of your plants like what Ponchit Ponce Enrile recommends.