The ProMusa Crop Production Working Group held its second working group meeting in Mombasa, Kenya on October 10, back-to-back with the International Banana Conference. Over 30 members gathered to elaborate on the working group objectives as they were defined during the first working group meeting in South Africa in September 2007. These three objectives are: (1) basic research in areas not addressed by the two other ProMusa working groups, (2) integration of research results from the three ProMusa working groups, and (3) effective delivery of results of research to end-users.
Crop modelling was seen as an important area where more basic research is needed. At present, two modelling platforms are being developed, one for East African Highland banana and one for dessert banana for export. A modelling exercise for plantain is lacking and should be addressed by ProMusa. Some datasets are available, but a lot of information is still missing.
Post-harvest was identified as another area where more basic research is needed, especially in improved harvesting techniques and improved packaging technologies, physiochemical and nutritional characterization of raw fruits and derived products, and maturation and ripening (enhanced shelf-life).
Integrating pest and disease management into the production system was seen as of crucial importance for sustainable banana production. Xanthomonas wilt of banana, important in Central Africa, and banana bunchy top disease, of almost global importance, were identified as two top priorities, as well the banana streak viruses, the three Mycosphaerella leaf spot diseases and weevils and nematodes. Each of these need to be tackled by the Crop Protection Working Group, who will need to carry out the basic pathological research, but results need to be integrated within the production system, and the Crop Production Working Group has an important role to play in this process. A strong linkage is also required with the Crop Improvement Working Group.
The group strongly felt that there is a need to bring research outputs to farmers, to help them improve their production system. This could be done through the development of a universal set of fact sheets with the “ProMusa brand”. A lot of information already exists; we need to compile and adapt existing resources of information (including existing fact sheets) into a uniform model. Inputs will be needed from other working groups. We need to make sure that we do not duplicate other good efforts.