Banana stands out as the most important fruit crop in the Philippines, constituting a significant portion in the country’s export revenue. Among the many banana cultivars grown throughout the, saba (Musa balbisiana) is considered as one of the leaders in terms of production and trade. Processed products derived from saba are gaining wide acceptance both in the domestic and international market.
Not to forget the fact that banana is also crop of social importance. It is one of the important sources of food in the rural areas where saba banana, in particular, is often used to extend, supplement or substitute staple food such as rice and corn
In contrast to dessert bananas, cooking banana are starchy types which are cooked before eating and constitute an importance item in the diet of people in places where there are shortage of staple food
Cooking bananas are categorically known as balbisiana cultivars (BBB). There are numerous cultivars under this type such as Cardaba, Abutan, Inabaniko, Turangkog, Sabang puti, Mundo, Gubao, Saba sa Hapon and Bigihan.
However, the most common cultivar with commercial importance is the saba which is grown throughout the country. It has the largest and tallest stem attaining a height of four meters.
Saba Bunches are big with 8 to 16 hands having 12 to 20 fingers per hand. The fruits are short and stubby and highly angular. The skin is thick and yellow when ripe. The pulp is creamy white, fine textured with well developed core and occasional seeds.
Almost every part of saba banana can be economically utilized. Fruit, when ripe is also eaten fresh as dessert but is usually eaten when cooked. It can be processed into a wide variety of food products such as banana flour, flakes, ketchup, wine, vinegar, and the popular banana chips.
The inflorescence is consumed as vegetable. The leaves are used as wrapping and decorative materials. The pseudostem is chopped finely, cooked and used as feed for hogs, cattle, and poultry.
SOIL AND CLIMATE REQUIREMENT
SOIL: Saba can be grown in nearly all kinds of soil but deep and friable loam soil with good drainage and aeration offers higher production and better fruit quality. Good yield had been reported from soils with pH value of 4.5 to 7.5. Extreme sandy and very rocky soil should be avoided.
CLIMATE: Areas with uniform warm and humid conditions with a minimum rainfall of 60 inches annually, whether through heavy and evenly spaced rainfall, and a temperature between 27 and 30 C is the most favorable condition for growing saba banana. Regions with long dry season may be developed into good banana producing areas provided irrigation facilities are available and economically feasible.
TERRAIN AND AREA: Ideal commercial plantation should be laid out on flat terrain to facilitate the movement of personnel, farm inputs and farm produce. Areas frequency visited by strong wind and typhoons should be avoided. A wind velocity of 48 to 56 kilometers per hour can cause crown distortion and exceeding this can cause serious blow down
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS AND MANAGEMENT
LAND PREPARATION: Plow the land thoroughly. If possible, plow 2-3 times followed by harrowing particularly those areas that have been previously planted to other crops. On virgin and second growth forest, under brushing the area is enough.
LINING, STAKING AND DIGGING OF HOLES: Rows of banana are laid out at their proper distance and markers (pegs) placed at the pre-determined distance between hills in a row. Dig the holes 50-60 cm in diameter and 60-80 cm deep, depending on the size of the sucker to be planted.