International Musa Testing Programme (IMTP)
The International Musa Testing Programme (IMTP) is a collaborative effort coordinated by Bioversity International to evaluate, in various locations around the world, banana cultivars (including landraces, cultivar selections and hybrids) for agronomic performance, host reaction to pests and diseases, and post-harvest characteristics in diverse environments, with the final objective to identify alternative banana cultivars that are well adapted to local conditions (including climatic/soil conditions, pest and disease pressure, and consumer/market requirements).
The programme was set up in 1989 to evaluate material developed by the banana breeding programme of the Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola (FHIA) in Honduras. Seven tetraploid hybrids were tested for their resistance to black leaf streak alongside diploid reference clones representing the whole range of reactions from highly resistant to highly susceptible. The experiments were established in six countries.
Four years later, the recommendation was made to release three clones for distribution: FHIA-01 and FHIA-02, both dessert banana varieties with outstanding agronomic performance and high resistance to black leaf streak, and FHIA-03, a cooking banana that also performed well1 . These three clones have since been distributed to more than 50 countries worldwide.
The second phase of IMTP started in 1996. The germplasm was evaluated for resistance to three diseases: black leaf streak, Sigatoka leaf spot and Fusarium wilt. Four programmes (FHIA in Honduras; the Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA) in Brazil; the Instituto de Investigaciones en Viandas Tropicales (INIVIT) in Cuba; and the Taiwan Banana Research Institute (TBRI) in Taiwan) contributed germplasm and the number of testing sites increased from 6 to 37, despite the fact that the trials were financed at the participating institutes' own expense.
The results suggested that, among the different materials tested, FHIA-23 and SH-3436-9 were the most tolerant to black leaf streak. The improved hybrid with the best overall performance was FHIA-23. An improved cultivar that deserves special mention is GCTCV-119, which had the lowest discoloration score for both Foc races and good yields under good management2 .
Eigtheen countries participated in phase III, to which five breeding programmes contributed germplasm (FHIA in Honduras; the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Uganda and Nigeria; TBRI in Taiwan; the Centre africain de recherches sur bananiers et plantains (CARBAP) in Cameroon; and the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) in Guadeloupe). The evaluation guidelines were modified: for the first time, some partners carried out in-depth studies3 that involved epidemiological and ecological research, while the others undertook simplified performance trials4 against specific diseases. A standard procedure for data management and statistical analysis was also developed.