The National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), which steps into its 25th year, would introduce two new banana varieties for cultivation during the course of the year, according to S. Uma, Director, NRCB.
A dwarf karpuravalli, which can withstand strong winds, and saba, a drought tolerant variety, would be introduced to farmers for cultivation, she said speaking to media persons on the sidelines of the NRCB’s foundation day observed as farmers day here on Monday.
While the dwarf karupuravallli, known as Namwa Khom, is originally from Thailand, the Saba variety is from Philippines. Tissue culture plants of the two varieties were obtained from the Bioversity International Transit Centre, Belgium, home to the world’s largest collection of banana germplasm. Field trials and research conducted across the country have found that they were suitable for the country.
“The dwarf karupuravalli, on account of its small size, will not be affected by strong winds, which pose a problem for banana growers. Farmers need not put up props, which involves substantial expenditure, to protect this variety from strong winds. The crop is also of 12 months duration only,” she said. Dr. Uma pointed out that the NRCB has already developed the technology for preservation and export of banana through sea. The NRCB in association with Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA), and Fair Exports, Cochin, has successfully shipped about 10 tonnes of ‘nendran’ banana to United Arab Emirates via the Cochin seaport under the initiative. Exporting banana through sea would bring down the transport cost by 10 times, she said and added that NRCB would soon provide the technology for preserving a few other varieties of banana for exporting them through sea.
Since viruses are a major problem in tissue culture banana, NRCB had developed a cheap two-minute test kit which can be used by farmers or companies in the farm itself. Another technology for quick production of tissue culture plants using bioreactor, which would help the tissue culture industry supply quality plants to the farmers, has also been developed.
A pathogen, TR-4 Fusarium,causing wilt disease on Cavendish banana has been detected in Bihar and its timely detection has helped in managing and containing the disease. The Tamil Nadu government has also been briefed on the disease, she said.
Later, C. Anandharamakrishnan, Director, Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, inaugurated the Farmers Day celebration on the theme of ‘Banana and Plantains for Nutritional Security.’ International scientists such as Rony Swennen from International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Belgium, Allan Brown of IITA, Tanzania, and Robooni of National Agricultural Research Organisation, Uganda, and representatives of banana growers associations and farmers spoke.
An exhibition featuring banana varieties, tissue culture plants and banana value added products was organised as part of the Farmers Day. Awards for banana conservation, banana entrepreneurs, banana growing farmers and technology dissemination were also given away on the occasion.