The Banana Asia-Pacific network (BAPNET) is the first network to have chosen who will represent them on the ProMusa Steering Committee. In January, the BAPNET Steering Committee unanimously elected Gus Molina, the Asia-Pacific regional coordinator for Bioversity International’s Commodities for Livelihoods programme. He had been acting as the network’s representative since their admission to the Steering Committee last May.
Until now, Africa has been a relatively minor player in world banana trade: Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana accounted for around 4% of the trade in 2007 (FAOSTAT export data). Both Angola and Mozambique will join the nations that export their fruit to Europe, with major joint venture investments by the US-based Chiquita Brands. Dole, the world's biggest fruit company, is also reported to be looking for partners in Angola, having recently invested in a large plantation in Ghana through its part-ownership of Compagnie Fruitière. Cameroon regularly states that it intends to increase its exports.
Stephan Weise and Jim Lorenzen have been elected as the new chair and vice-chair of the ISHS banana and plantain section. At the next ISHS congress, in August 2010, the newly elected chair and vice-chair will take over from Richard Markham and Victor Galán Saucó, who had been appointed as interim chairpersons when the section was created in 2006.
Hill bananas (AAB, two ecotypes Virupakshi and Sirumalai) are grown at a height of 2000 to 5000 feet with well distributed annual rainfall of 1250-1500 mm in the lower Palaini, Sirumalai and Kolli hills. Hill bananas, unique to the state of Tamil Nadu, are known for their special flavour and long shelf life. Hill bananas are perennial in nature, cultivated along with coffee and pepper also as a multitier system. Hill bananas are highly susceptible to Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). BBTV has been the sole cause for reduction in Hill banana cultivation from 18,000 ha in 1970s to a mere 2,000 ha at present.
A new project, based on a recommendation made at the latest ISHS/ProMusa Symposium, will help predict the impact of the dreaded Fusarium strain on banana production in Africa.