Links to online news on bananas

A lure-and-infect strategy to control thrips

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

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.

Stopping banana freckle

Monday, 18 November 2013

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.

A biochip to detect banana viruses

Friday, 15 November 2013

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.

A Cavendish-like hybrid under the microscope

Friday, 15 November 2013

Visitors to the Banana Museum in Sainte-Marie, Martinique, were recently asked to weigh in on an improved hybrid produced by the French Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD). Called Fhlorban 925, the small banana tastes like a Cavendish, but unlike the latter it is resistant to leaf spot diseases and nematodes, and as such requires less pesticides. Some 900 kg of the new cultivar are currently grown on 2 sites in Martinique and 4 in Guadeloupe, where scientists from the Institut Technique Tropical are studying its agronomic performance. It's also being tested in cold chambers in Rungis, outside Paris. If the various evaluations are conclusive, the objective is to commercialize it by 2015. 

TR4 in Jordan

Monday, 04 November 2013

A first report of tropical race 4 outside southeast Asia was published in Plant Disease. The diagnostic was performed by scientists from Wageningen UR (University and Research Centre) using samples sent by Jordan's Ministry of Agriculture. It appears that 80% of the banana plantations in the Jordan Valley, which represent a total of only 1,000-1,500 hectares, are now infected.

NARITAS to undergo field evaluation

Friday, 25 October 2013

IITA announced that 26 improved hybrids of East African highland bananas are about to be evaluated for their agronomic performance and disease resistance. Dubbed NARITAS because they are the products of a collaboration between NARO (National Agricultural Research Organization) and IITA (the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture), the hybrids will be tested in various banana-growing areas of East Africa by national programmes in collaboration with Bioversity International.

The unsustainable pricing of UK's favourite fruit

Friday, 25 October 2013

In a piece on how the UK supermarkets' banana price war is making sustainable production impossible for producers and their workers, Alistair Smith of Banana Link is quoted as saying that "Competition law so far deals only with cartels of suppliers, not with cartels of buyers. But we're in a new world where cartels of buyers can force down prices, whatever the sector".

Marketing Kenyan bananas

Thursday, 24 October 2013

In The time is ripe, the magazine Spore explores the various marketing strategies used by banana producers in Kenya to develop domestic and regional markets.

Filipino banana farmers share their experience with TR4

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Filipino farmers talk about their experience with the tropical race 4 fungal strain that attacks Cavendish bananas in two videos (part 1 and part 2) produced for a group of Wageningen UR researchers working on Fusarium wilt (better known as Panama disease). The series contains other videos on the dreaded disease.

Australia takes action against banana freckle

Tuesday, 03 September 2013

No sooner had freckle disease been found on Cavendish bananas that the Northern Territory's Department of Primary Industry put several farms under quarantine. The disease was originally found in hobby farms and depending on the results of a survey of 300 farms, the authorities will decide whether to try eradicating the disease. The disease had been observed on other cultivars, but never on Cavendish ones.


The Tribute to Phil Rowe online

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The organizers of the Earth International Banana Congress, which included a Tribute to Phil Rowe, have just put online the PDFs of the presentations. The congress also had a session on carbon neutrality and sustainable production.

GM bananas: from nutrition to disease resistance

Monday, 26 August 2013

James Dale of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia speaks with freshfruitportal.com about the various projects he and his team are working on, from making bananas resistant to bunchy top and Fusarium wilt to tackling vitamin A and iron deficiencies.

RTB-led alliance to control Bunchy top in Africa

Friday, 23 August 2013

Bioversity International and IITA are collaborating on the organization of a global alliance to control the spread of bunchy top in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Earlier this year they organized a workshop — Building a collaborative, public-private R4D alliance
for an integrated control of banana bunchy top disease in Sub-Saharan Africa —  whose report is now available on the website of the Roots, Tubers and Bananas research program.

Mapping banana production

Friday, 12 July 2013

A mapping tool developed by the Roots, Tubers and Bananas Consortium Research Program is now available online. RTBMaps, as the website is called, was launched with some 25 map layers, including poverty and food-security indicators as well as production constraints. No sooner had it won an international award, that observers of the agricultural scenes started commenting on the online tool.

Harnessing local banana know-how

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Living in a cyclone prone area has necessarily led to the development of coping mechanisms to survive their aftermath. One of these, from Futuna island in Vanuatu, is a method to preserve unripe bananas for up to two years. Another one from Samoa is a propagation method that can produce 50 shoots from a single plant to accelerate replanting after a cyclone. This traditional know-how is being disseminated as part of a SPC-GIZ project.

Surviving Panama’s banana crisis cooperatively

Thursday, 04 April 2013

Alistair Smith of Banana Link explains, at Fresh Fruit Portal, how a cooperative run by former Chiquita workers has survived the dramatic decline in Panama’s banana exports that has taken place in recent years. The Cooperativa Bananera del Atlantico R.L., known as Coobana, has some 500 workers, 220 of whom are members of the cooperative.

Videos by the Australia's bunchy top project

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

As part of its ambitious campaign to eradicate bunchy top, the Australian Bunchy Top National Project funded by the banana industry and the Australian government has produced a four-minute video targeting the general public. A shorter version focuses on the symptoms and what to do in case of infection.

Blogs on bunchy top in Australia

India's plan to enter the global banana trade

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

According to BBC News, the Confederation of Indian Industries has drawn up a plan to export bananas from the country's main production region in the south. Their ambition is to create a global brand, Tamil Nadu Bananas, along the lines of Florida Oranges and California Apples. Among the challenges producers face are reducing waste, which currently represents about 30% of production, and improving post-harvest facilities.

Typhoon 'Pablo' flattens banana plantations

Friday, 07 December 2012

In addition to claiming the lives of more than 400 people, the devastating typhoon ‘Pablo’ that hit the island of Mindanao in the Philippines also caused extensive damage that affect the livelihoods of millions of people. The commercial banana plantations were particularly affected (most of the country’s plantations of export bananas are located on the southern island precisely because it is usually less affected by typhoons than the northern islands). The other worry is that the floods might have spread the tropical race 4 fungus that causes Fusarium wilt on Cavendish bananas.

Not so new gene discovery

Tuesday, 04 December 2012

In reaction to a blog post on the discovery of genes for resistance to black Sigatoka in Calcutta 4, Rodomiro Ortiz of the Dept. Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences reflects on a similar discovery two decades ago. It's also worth mentioning that black Sigatoka (black leaf streak) is not present in India, as the original blog post suggests.