Links to online news on bananas

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.

New Book: Genomics of Tropical Crop Plants

Monday, 18 August 2008
The book “Genomics of Tropical Crop Plants” is the first volume in a series of books on plant genetics and genomics, and includes a chapter on banana and plantain. The book, edited by Paul H. Moore and Ray Ming, is published by Springer. The banana and plantain chapter (read the abstract here) is authored by N Roux, F-C Baurens, J Dolezel, E H?ibová, P Heslop-Harrison, C Town, T Sasaki, T Matsumoto, R Aert, S Remy, M Souza and P Lagoda. To purchase the book, go to tinyurl.com/46lzgv.

Producing energy from banana waste

Monday, 14 January 2008
The Australian Banana Grower’s Association has built a pilot scale reactor that produces methane from banana waste. The prototype is based on research conducted by Bill Clarke from the University of Queensland.

Banana bunchy top virus in Hawaii

Saturday, 15 December 2007
The Banana bunchy top virus continues to make headlines in Hawaii, this time on Molokai, where extension efforts are underway to control the spread of the disease. It was first observed on Kaua’i in 1997, reaching O’ahu eight years later.

Expert argues that tissue-culture bananas are not adapted to small-scale farmers

Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Benjamin Chege from the National Horticultural Centre in Kenya says that the future of tissue-culture bananas lies in reaching out to farmers who own large farms.