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.
To reinforce its role in guiding research priorities, ensuring better linkages between growers and scientists, as well as facilitating the dissemination and uptake of results and knowledge, the ProMusa Steering Committee has created a seat for each of the banana regional R&D networks, representing stakeholders from banana-producing regions: BAPNET in Asia and the Pacific, BARNESA in eastern and southern Africa and MUSALAC in Latin America and the Caribbean. The MUSACO network for West and Central Africa is being restructured as an innovation platform on plantains managed by WECARD and CARBAP, with technical backstopping from Bioversity International, IITA, CIRAD and FAO.
Members of the ProMusa network have joined forces to take on the challenge posed by banana streak viruses (BSV). DNA sequences of these badnaviruses are integrated in the B genome donated by the wild species Musa balbisiana. The ability of some of the sequences to form infective particles has led to restrictions on the distribution and use of B-genome-rich cultivars. Certain institutions have even stopped using cultivars containing the B genome in their breeding schemes. But if these cultivars are anything like their balbisiana ancestor, they could be more tolerant to drought than cultivars derived only from Musa acuminata, which donated the A genome, and as such play an important role in safeguarding future banana production against the effects of climate change.
Greetings everyone! I thought I'd share here a modified version of an article I've written for a local newsletter about the student farm I help to run.
Close to 48 million tonnes of banana are produced every year in Asia, making the fruit one of the most important crops in the region. The fruit is part of the daily diet of Asians both as fresh fruit and processed delicacies, and plays an important role in the livelihoods of millions of banana growers who supply the local and export markets. The region, however, faces many challenges. Banana bunchy top disease has caused significant damage to the banana industry in many Asian countries over the last 20 years, and the recent outbreaks of tropical race 4 (TR4), a highly virulent race of Fusarium wilt, are extremely alarming. But there is also good news. Asia lies in the center of origin of the crop, and is home to a rich diversity of wild and cultivated bananas. This genepool is a valuable source of genetic variability that has been the basis for crop evolution and is of vital importance for direct use by farmers or for breeding new varieties.