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Mediawatch

Links to online news on bananas

Addressing the threat of TR4 in Africa

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A consortium of African and international stakeholders released a declaration to address the threat of tropical race 4 (TR4), which was reported in northern Mozambique at the end of 2013. The declaration is one of the outcomes of a workshop organized by the African Consortium for Foc TR4 (AC4TR4) at the end of April in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Vitamin A rich GM bananas

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) announced the start of a human trial of bananas that were genetically engineered to produce higher levels of pro-vitamin A carotenoids usinng a phytoene synthase gene from the Fei banana 'Asupina'.  About 10 kg of bananas have been sent to the United States to measure their impact on vitamin A levels in humans. A Ugandan researcher speaking to ABC news predicted a huge impact given the importance of bananas in the diet. The bananas also have increased levels of iron. For more information on QUT's work on GM bananas, see Rob Harding's power point presentation.

Innovative uses for discarded export bananas

Thursday, 12 June 2014

According to Baking Europe, between 4 to 5 metric tonnes of the bananas produced for the export trade are discarded every year because they don't meet the industry's exacting standards. Some are sold on local markets, but few attempts have been made to use these rejected bananas in industrial food processing. Starting on page 12 of the June 2014 issue, CIRAD scientists suggest innovative uses, such as making gluten-free banana flour.

Somalia resumes banana exports

Friday, 23 May 2014

The first consignment of export bananas in more than two decades has left the port of Mogadishu for the Middle East. Before the collapse of the central government in 1991, Somalia was the largest exporter of bananas in East Africa. Plantations were first established in the Shabelle Valley in 1919, with the technical support of Italians. After the United Nations granted Italy trusteeship of Italian Somalia in 1945, the crop was sold to the Banana Plantation Monopoly for export to Italy.

The madness of banana price wars

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Banana link calls on European retailers to stop destroying value in the banana chain with their price wars. According to the owner of a ripening company the fierce competition is affecting everyone. The only winner seems to be consumers, except that most of them don't even notice when the price of bananas goes down, according to a survey commissioned by Fairtrade Foundation.

Update on TR4 in Mozambique

Friday, 16 May 2014

Dan Koeppel, the author of The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, reports on the Mozambique plantation wrestling with  tropical race 4.

Banana demonstration farm to help Filipino farmers

Wednesday, 07 May 2014

In the Philippines, the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST), on the southern island of Midanao, announced that it will set up a 5-ha banana farm to demonstrate disease management and cultural practices to smallholder farmers. According to the president of SPAMAST, the farm will also produce local cultivars such as Saba, Lakatan and Latundan with the view of increasing their share of the domestic and international markets, both of which are dominated by Cavendish cultivars.

The changing face of global banana trade

Monday, 28 April 2014

The FAO released an information note revealing the changing nature of the global banana trade. An analysis of information gathered from the annual reports of the largest multinational banana trading companies shows that the combined market share of the top three companies (Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte) declined from a high of 65.3% in the 1980s to 36.6% in 2013. The accompanying news release also notes that the scope of operations of the big multinationals has undergone a significant shift, away from plantation ownership and production towards purchasing from producers, transportation, ripening facilities and marketing. In an audio interview, Ekaterina Krivonos, an economist in the Trade and Markets Division, explains the challenge the increasingly fragmented market presents to smallholder banana producers. FreshFruitPortal also did a news: Multinationals lose grip on global banana exports.

Equal exchange talks big change in bananas

Friday, 28 March 2014

FreshPlaza reports on The Future of Authentic Fairtrade Bananas conference organized by Equal Exchange, a fairtrade food importer based in Massachusetts, USA.

The water woes of Yemeni banana farmers

Friday, 28 March 2014

Yemen's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the country's banana farmers disagree on how to reduce the amount of water used in the production of bananas, while a Sana'a university professor suggests that the best solution would be to import the water-loving fruit. Read the whole story in the Yemen Times.

Chiquita-Fyffes merger and the fate of the export banana

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Al Jazeera - America takes advantage of a news on the upcoming merger between US-based Chiquita Brands International and Ireland-based Fyffes to take a stab at the banana industry's business model.

How banana plants fight off Radopholus similis

Thursday, 06 March 2014

Scientists studying the mechanisms of resistance to the burrowing nematode Radopholus similis have zeroed in on the phenylphenalenone anigorufone. They arrived at the conclusion by looking at two cultivars differing in their reaction to the nematode: the susceptible Grande Naine and the resistant Yangambi km5. The scientific paper was published in PNAS.

RTB's banana breeder

Tuesday, 04 March 2014

Rony Swennen, a Belgian university professor with a foot in both Bioversity and IITA is featured on the website of the CGIAR program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

The race to save Caribbean's banana industry

Tuesday, 04 March 2014

Regional governmental representatives are pushing to strengthen institutional arrangements to deal with the impact of climate change on agriculture, including the production of bananas, an important source of income for many Caribbean farmers. For example, the island of Dominica earns an estimated 55 million dollars annually from the production of approximately 30,000 tonnes of bananas, while the neighbouring islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which together market their fruit under the Windward Islands Banana brand, earn an average of 68 million dollars.

Cheap bananas and monocultures

Monday, 03 March 2014

The way bananas for export are grown and marketed is criticised in the British press. The Fairtrade Foundation takes on supermarkets for squeezing smallholder banana farmers out of their livelihoods in a Guardian blog and a video on what low international prices mean to farmers. In We have no bananas today, The Economist points out that while growing bananas for export in monocultures is efficient, it makes the production system vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Canarian bananas gain 'Origins of Spain' protection

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Association of Banana Producers of the Canaries, ASPROCAN, is celebrating the incorporation of Plátano de Canarias into the Spanish Association of Appellations of Origin last week. The Canary Islands is the only European banana producer to be awarded the quality seal.

Nipping bunchy top in the bud in Africa

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

At the end of January, scientists met in Bujumbara, Burundi, to shape out a framework for a participatory approach to recover banana fields affected by bunchy top in nine African countries and to "nip this disease in the bud" as one of the scientists leading the workshop said. The workshop is part of an initiative led by IITA, Bioversity International and CIRAD and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

Banana Link Alistair Smith on the battle for banana livelihoods

Friday, 07 February 2014

In an opinion piece published in FreshFruitPortal.com Alistair Smith, the coordinator of Banana Link, discusses the challenges of being a small-scale producer in an industry dominated by labor-intensive, large-scale production.

RTB report on banana beverage value chains

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas recently published the report of a workshop on Banana-based beverages in East Africa: diagnosing value chains and associated livelihoods held at the end of 2013.

RTB takes on bunchy top in sub-Saharan Africa

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Some 50 experts from 20 countries are gathered in Bujumbura, Burundi, to coordinate an RTB-funded effort to contain the spread of bunchy top by building capacity and piloting field recovery alliances through a learning alliance.