Links to online news on bananas

European Parliament ratifies trade agreement

Thursday, 10 February 2011
One of the longest running trade disputes formally came to an end when the European Parliament an agreement between the EU and Latin American banana producing countries over tariff policies.

The New Yorker magazine reports on TR4

Monday, 10 January 2011
New Yorker reporter Mike Peed writes about the tropical race 4 strain that affects Cavendish bananas in southeast Asia and northern Australia and the efforts of Australian scientists to produce resistant bananas. The story is behind a pay wall but you can watch a video narrated by the journalist.

Crop tool for Africa

Thursday, 11 November 2010
The FAO launched a quick reference calendar covering 43 African countries and more than 130 crops, including bananas. The web-based tool provides information on the best time to plant a crop by agro-ecological zone.

Efforts underway to rescue Pacific banana

Thursday, 21 October 2010
The Global Crop Diversity Trust is coordinating efforts to put in long-term conservationindigenous crops that could be used to address health problems created by an over reliance on imported foods. Meanwhile, Slow Food Miami nominated the Pacific banana Hua Moa for its Ark of Taste.

Banana domestication revisited

Tuesday, 19 October 2010
The standard story of how bananas were domesticated relies on farmers propagating spontaneous mutations that made the fruit edible, but evidence is accumulating that backcrossing played an important role. According to the authors of an article published in the Annals of Botany, confirmation of this hypothesis should lead to a reconsideration of current breeding strategies.

Trials on GM bananas in Uganda

Tuesday, 05 October 2010
The Uganda National Biosafety Committee recently approved a series of trials on GM crops, two of which involve bananas. The bananas have been engineered to resist Xanthomonas wilt or to produce more vitamin A and iron.

Reinforcing plastics with banana fibre

Sunday, 03 October 2010
An EC-funded project is developing techniques to extract fibres from banana leaves and use them to develop thermoplastic composite products for the automotive industry. Meanwhile, Papyrus Australia developed a technology to transform banana pseudostems into timber-based products.

Increasing the shelf-life of Ugandan bananas

Friday, 01 October 2010
A vacuum-sealed process extends the shelf-life of bananas to up to 30 days when they are kept in the refrigerator. The Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development is also supporting projects on the production of juice and flour from bananas.

Tomato gene may fend banana against formidable fungus

Thursday, 30 September 2010
Having shown in a PNAS article that the fungus Cladosporium fulvum, which causes leaf blight in tomato plants, is closely related to Mycosphaerella fijiensis, which causes a leaf spot disease in bananas, scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands speculate that the Cf resistance gene of the tomato could provide protection to the defenceless Cavendish banana.

Fertilizer use

Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda have shown that the yield of a banana crop can double when moderate amounts of fertilizers are applied.

Banana liquor with a dash of academia

Monday, 27 September 2010
Scientists from KULeuven are collaborating with Brasserie Improvisio to produce a banana liqueur whose proceeds will support a development project on bananas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Banana bunchy top virus in Africa

Tuesday, 21 September 2010
IITA scientists describe the threat posed by banana bunchy top disease in Africa in the latest issue of R4D Review.

Bananas resist economic crisis

Monday, 07 December 2009
According to an FAO report presented at the 4th session of the Inter-Governmental Group on Bananas, the demand in bananas is not expected to be significantly affected by the recession. In a separate report delivered at the meeting, the FAO called for more resources to go towards creating a global map of banana and plantain diseases.

International Conference on Banana and Plantain in Africa

Monday, 02 November 2009

An International Conference on Banana and Plantain in Africa: Harnessing International Partnerships to Increase Research Impact has been held in Mombasa, Kenya from 5 to 9 October, organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with Bioversity International, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).

The conference focused on three major themes: markets and trade, production, and innovation systems. On the last day day, participants discussed the outputs from the first three sessions, with the aim to come up with a 10-year, knowledge-based research-for-development strategy for banana in Africa.

For decades, African banana growers – along with those in the Caribbean and Pacific – have enjoyed tariff-free access to European markets but this is likely to change in the near future. The banana experts who met in Kenya advised that African growers have an opportunity to expand production and increase incomes by focusing on the under-exploited local and regional markets. More than 90% of Africa’s bananas are already consumed locally and regional demand is increasing, particularly in rapidly growing urban areas. African countries must look at adopting more liberalized policies that could increase cross-border trade. New marketing strategies and value addition through processing for products, like banana chips, beer, fried snacks, flour and fibre, should be explored. At the same time, however, efforts to increase incomes should not occur at the expense of food security, and thus the impacts of trade on food security should be taken into consideration.

Download the conference book of abstracts and the PDFs of the proceedings (behind a paywall).

Related news:
New Agriculturist: Points of View: African bananas - unlocking the potential
Inter-Press Service: Cultiver des bananes pour combattre la pauvreté et la faim
AllAfrica.Com: Uganda - Banana Traders to Focus on Regional Markets
Inter-Press Service: Bananos desaprovechados en lucha contra el hambre
afrol News: Banana farmers urged to up local market production
AllAfrica.Com: Uganda - Country Takes Steps to Turn Bananas Into Cash Crop

Making plastic out of bananas

Friday, 09 October 2009
Researchers in Belfast are turning banana plants into plastic as part of a pioneering study. The project is developing new procedures to incorporate by-products from banana plantations in the Canary Islands.

Using the pseudostem and other parts of banana plant

Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Researchers at the Navsari Agricultural University in India have developed a candy using the central core of the banana plant’s pseudostem, which they said is rich in fiber and nutritional value. They have also looked at other ways to convert parts of the plant that are usually discarded into useful products.

Blue bananas, the sequel

Monday, 14 September 2009
The scientists who identified a unique set of catabolites in ripening banana peels have shown that the intensity of the blue luminescence could be used to track senescence in vivo in a variety of plants. The catabolites could act as molecular trackers for ripening, making it easier to determine whether a piece of fruit is just right or too ripe.

Wheat zone goes bananas

Tuesday, 08 September 2009
What started as a small experiment to show wheat farmers how to grow a type of Grande Naine that produces large fruits is catching on.

Xanthomonas wilt in the news again

Wednesday, 20 May 2009
A review article on the threat posed to banana production by this devastating disease has sparked another wave of articles, including one by the UN news agency IRIN.

Coping with climate change

Tuesday, 31 March 2009
As weather becomes more unpredictable, some farmers cope by switching to bananas, as Nepalese farmers have done. IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently reported on a Nepalese farmer who doubled his income after starting a banana farm. The Guardian and the Nepal Monitor have also reported similar stories of farmers successfully diversifying into bananas.