The introduction of rainwater harvesting on the leeward side of Mount Meru in Tanzania has allowed 500 farmers to start growing bananas. Small-scale farmers from the drought-stricken Arumeru District testify to the effectiveness of the technology.
A study suggests that the unreplenished removal of soil nutrients by growing bananas could account for the diminishing yields observed during the study period. Measuring the organic and mineral content of soils, the researchers found low levels of important minerals. The little fertility left was mainly from topsoil organic matter. The study was conducted in four agro-ecological regions of Rwanda and south-western Uganda between 2007 and 2011.
Scientists at India's National Institute for Inter-disciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) have developed an anaerobic process to extract fibre from a banana plant. The separated fibres are then cleaned and dried, while the organic wastes can be converted into biogas.
An article in The Guardian reveals that even though 60 per cent of banana production in the Dominican Republic is now certified organic and a quarter certified Fairtrade, the industry still relies heavily on a migrant workforce paid poverty wages, living in slums and with no legal status.
A team of scientists led by Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is spearheading a $6 million Banana Plant Protection Programme. Instead of fighting pests and pathogens after they have become a major problem, researchers aim to keep banana plants healthy through resistant varieties and improved plant-protection systems.
A blog on landscapes selected the Kuk Early Agricultural World Heritage Site as its landscape of the week. The site is one of the earliest known landscapes in the world where agriculture was practiced and the earliest evidence for the domestication of plants, including banana, in the Pacific region.
The East African has an article on one of Uganda’s most celebrated food technologists, Rev Dr Florence Muranga. The founding director of the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development is famous for turning matooke (banana) into shelf-stable flours, thus preventing millions of tonnes of the crop from going to waste.
Australia's Queensland University of Technology and India's Department of Biotechnology will collaborate on the development of iron-rich GM bananas. In an interview, the project leader James Dale said that bananas were a good vehicle for addressing iron-deficiency anaemia in a country where a large proportion of the population are vegetarians, which means that they do not get iron from a meat diet. They do however consume a considerable amount of bananas.