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 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.
FreshPlaza reports on The Future of Authentic Fairtrade Bananas conference organized by Equal Exchange, a fairtrade food importer based in Massachusetts, USA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Florida International University scientists used simulation models to predict how changes in temperature and rainfall might affect the commercial cultivation of bananas in 11 South and Central American countries. According to the press release, the authors found that while weather conditions may become too hot and dry in many existing plantations, chances for raising successful crops could improve in areas of Mexico, Peru and Ecuador. The study is available (behind a paywall) on the website of the journal Ecological Economics.
A news piece published in the journal Nature reveals that the TR4 fungus recently reported to be in a commercial banana plantation of northern Mozambique might have been there for two to three years. The piece downplays the impact of TR4 by noting that the export trade, which is dominated by Cavendish bananas, accounts for only about 13% of global production. What is not said is that twice as many Cavendish bananas are grown for domestic markets, according to the statistics published in the May 2012 issue of FruiTrop.
Tropical race 4 (TR4) of Fusarium wilt has been discovered on Cavendish bananas in Mozambique. This was announced today by the Mozambique Department of Agriculture, together with IITA, Stellenbosch University and Bioversity International. It is the first report of TR4 in Africa.
Wageningen UR Plant Research International is collaborating with the TASTE Foundation and several Latin American universities and agricultural organisations on the biological control of the red rust thrips for organic producers in Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The tiny insects leave red spots when they feed on the banana fruit and female flowers. Even though the problem is purely cosmetic, affected bunches cannot be exported since supermarkets won't buy them. The main strategy the scientists are working on involves luring the insects in a pheromone trap, where they will be exposed to a deadly fungus with which they will contaminate their conspecifics.
After discovering banana freckle on two more properties in Australia's Northern Territory, an eradication circle of 1 km around each of the two infected properties was established. All the plants within that circle are cut up and the stumps treated with herbicide. The plant material is then trucked to a dedicated disposal site where it is buried. No banana plant will be planted for 12 months to ensure the pest does not reappear. During that period, all properties within 2 km of the infected properties will be inspected. If banana freckle is not found, the Northern Territory will be declared free of the pest.
Taiwanese researchers developed a biochip than can detect three banana viruses simultaneously: cucumber mosaic virus, banana bunchy top virus and banana bract mosaic virus. The researchers claim that the device is eight times more sensitive than traditional methods. They are also working on adding the banana streak virus to the biochip.