Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Banana genotype composition along the border between Uganda and the DR Congo

Deborah Karamura of Bioversity International (formerly IPGRI,, explored Musa genetic resources along the Uganda-DR Congo  border, sampled unique Musa germplasm and assessed the cross-border genotype diversity. This in situ analysis of banana diversity reveals that the bananas were of different types: almost half are of the cooking types, the rest is split between roasting, dessert and beer/juice types. The exercise made possible the collection of 18 new genotypes.  The research is a chapter of the following book published by CABI: 'Banana Systems in the Humid Highlands of Sub-Saharan Africa. Enhancing Resilience and Productivity'.   


Screening the banana biodiversity for drought

There is a great need for research aimed at understanding drought tolerance. Screening for drought tolerant varieties and breeding crops with improved water use efficiency is a crucial step in the right direction. Bananas and plantains are a major staple food (especially in Africa and the Pacific – editor’s note) and export product (in the Caribbean – editor’s note) with a worldwide production of over 135 million tonnes per year. Water however is the most limiting abiotic factor in banana production. Five varieties representing different genomic constitutions in banana (AAAh, AAA, AAB, AABp, and ABB) were selected and subjected to a mild osmotic stress. The ABB variety showed the smallest stress induced growth reduction.  (Bioversity International, 2012)


Quantitative digital imaging of banana growth suppression by plant parasitic nematodes

In this experiment, a digital camera fitted with a hemispherical lens was used to generate canopy leaf area index (LAI) values for a banana field trial with the aim of establishing a method for monitoring stresses on tall crop plants. LAI estimated by hemispherical photography provided a rapid basis for detecting biotic growth checks by nematodes on bananas, and demonstrated the potential of the approach for studies of growth checks to other tall crop plants caused by biotic or abiotic stresses.  (PLOS ONE 7(12): e53355. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053355)


Trainer's manuals on banana tissue-culture plantlets

The CGIAR Roots, Tubers and Bananas research programme recently released its first publications: two training manuals, one on growing bananas using tissue-culture plantlets and the other on running a banana tissue-culture nursery. The manuals are based on trainings conducted in Burundi, Kenya and Uganda as part of a project exploring alternative ways of delivering tissue-culture plantlets to smallholder farmers. To encourage farmers to switch to tissue-culture plantlets, development projects typically distribute large quantities of plantlets at subsidized prices. The problem with this type of strategy is that the supply chain set up during the project usually collapses when donor support ends. The training manuals are not intended for farmers or nursery operators, but are meant to be used by extension workers or applied scientists to take the concerned parties through the technical aspects of taking care of tissue-culture plantlet. (, 1/03/2013) 


A study of perennial staple crops

The Overstory, journal of Agroforestry Net (, based in Hawaii, US), features an extended excerpt of the in-depth review of perennial staple crops conducted by Eric Toensmeier of Perennial staple crops include grains, pulses (dry beans), nuts, dry pods, starchy fruits, oilseeds, high-protein leaves, and some more exotic products like starch-filled trunks, sugary palm saps, and aerial tubers. These offer the unique possibility of crops grown for basic human food that can simultaneously sequester carbon, stabilize slopes, and build soils as part of no-till perennial agricultural systems. Such production models approach the carbon sequestering capacity of natural forest, because they can mimic the structure of a forest most closely. Perennial staple crop systems are resilient in the face of climate change effects better than most annuals. These food forests can be long-lived, no-till, and low-maintenance. They do however have harvesting and processing challenges – for example most peach palm varieties have tall, very spiny trunks that must be climbed for harvest. The review describes perennial crop candidates by climate types, details the barriers to their adoption, compares their carbohydrate and protein yields with annual crops, and identifies the members of each perennial plant family (Palm, legume, mulberry, banana, yam along with hardy nuts and grasses). Overstory #248, 13/8/2012)


Rwanda: banana fibre for fabrics - a refreshing innovation

Rwanda has decided to venture into the creative world of fabrics, this time on a discovery mission of how to manufacture fabrics from banana fibre. Bananas are a staple food here in Rwanda being consumed by the greater part of the population. While we consume the fruit, cloth will be woven from tree fibres. Now imagine how the local textile industry is set for a major boom, after the announcement today of the seven-member technical team that is set for Japan, to start the process of transferring banana textile technology to Rwanda. This team is going to study this ancient tradition of transforming banana fibre into textiles which dates back to the 13th century, in Japan. (Source: New Vision, 16 January 2009)


Where science meets sustainable production: A banana case study from tropical Queensland

Members of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) can get access to the full text version of this article. There is an increasing public call to produce food and fibre products using sustainable methods or systems. In our case study, the research and extension team used a holistic farming systems approach with banana producers to identify key environmental issues and explore management options for addressing these issues. Our experiences show that production research and technology can provide answers to some of the environmental problems identified, including research outcomes in plant nutrition and irrigation management, soil conservation, and integrated pest management. As a result group members have successfully reduced fertiliser use, pesticide use and soil erosion without reducing productivity. Using a participative approach highlighted the importance of integrating and adapting research outcomes to meet grower needs, and illustrated the value of combining ‘smart science’ with the practical ‘know-how’ of farmers. Authors: S.J. Lindsay, A.B. Pattison, J.S. Bagshaw, S. Heisswolf, R. Wright


Evaluation of cultural and post-harvest practices in relation to fruit quality problems in Philippine non-chemical bananas

Cultural and post-harvest practices of banana grown without chemicals or "non-chemical bananas" were surveyed in relation to fruit quality problems in the Philippines during 1998-1999. It was found that inadequate classification of fruit maturity for the export market leads to a significant wastage of harvested fruits. Exposure to harsh environment, including careless loading, unloading and overloading, insufficient and poor cushioning, and poor truck suspension and road conditions are major causes of damage to non-chemical bananas. Inadequate washing facilities and unsanitary conditions at the packing centres and low-quality packing materials appear to be related to the high incidence of post-harvest diseases in non-chemical bananas. Selection of good fruits, crown trimming and reboxing of non-chemical bananas at the repacking centres in Japan were carried out to improve the appearance of non-chemical bananas before delivery to the consumers. From authors' summary. In Japanese Journal of Tropical Agriculture (Japan), 2000, v. 44(3) p. 178-185


Effect of post-harvest application of calcium chloride on ripening, shelf life and quality of banana cv. Poovan

The effect of different levels and methods of post-harvest application of CaCl2 on ripening, shelf-life, and quality of banana cv. Poovan was studied in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India. The fruits were harvested at full maturity, dehanded and treated with CaCl2 at 2, 4, and 6% either by dipping for 10 min or by vacuum infiltration for 5 min. The fruits were stored in plastic baskets under ambient conditions (29-35°C, relative humidity 72%). The treatments enhanced the ripening process and senescence of banana fruits, thereby shortening the shelf life. The effect was more prominent when the vacuum infiltration method was used. The rates of change of the physico-chemical properties of the treated fruits during storage were either faster or on a par with the untreated control. From authors' summary. In South Indian Horticulture (India). 2002, v. 50(4-6) p. 308-316


Micropropagation of Cavendish banana in Taiwan

A micro-propagation system for virus-indexed, disease-free banana plantlets for commercial planting was developed in Taiwan to prevent the spread of virus diseases such as banana bunchy top (caused by Banana Bunchy Top Virus, BBTV) and banana mosaic (caused by Cucumber Mosaic Virus, CMV) in infected tissue culture plantlets. The Taiwan Provincial Fruit and Marketing Cooperative manages the last stage of acclimatizing the plantlets in screened nurseries located in banana-growing regions. It also surveys market demand, and advises members when to register (6-8 months in advance) for the number of plantlets they will need, the cultivar, and the time of planting. About 70 to 80% of the total supply is needed in Feb. and March, in accordance with the cultural practices of banana growers. The micropropagation of tissue culture plantlets has also played an important role in the successful selection of clones which are resistant to race 4 of fusarial wilt. A semi-dwarf cultivar from Barbados, after many cycles of selection and domestication, was released to farmers as "Tai Chiao No. 2", of which up to now 4 million plantlets have been propagated for commercial planting. In Technical Bulletin (ASPAC/FFTC). 2003, no. 163, p. 1-7 Download document


Caribbean: Variability in the green shelf life of bananas in real conditions of production

In 2003, a survey was carried out among 3 banana producers in Martinique to examine the variability of fruit greenlife and the use of  thermal sums as a decision tool for timing the optimum moment of harvesting. For each banana producer, fruits were taken at the exit of the packing station from 10% of the bunches harvested during 1 week. Then, these bananas were preserved at 14°C in bags made of perforated polyethylene until the "changing green" stage of maturity. The greenlife was defined as the number of days between the harvest and this stage of maturity. It was found that greenlife varied from 18 to 69 days with an average of 42 days for all of the producers. Less than 4% had a greenlife of less than 25 days. The thermal sums varied from 600 to 1150 degree-days. Fruits affected by anthracnose and tip rot had a shorter greenlife. For the same thermal sum, significant differences in greenlife were found. Variations of more than 7 days on average were observed between plots from the same  producer and located at the same altitude. This may be partially attributed to the presence of Colletotrichum musae and the poor effectiveness of fungicidal treatments in some plantations. From authors' summary. In Fruits (France), v. 60(4) p. 227-236


Africa: Post-harvest aspects of highland bananas in Uganda

A survey on the use and post-harvest handling of East African Highland bananas was conducted in Uganda, in 1993. Farmers were interviewed to determine the main constraints in the processing of Highland bananas, and to establish research priorities. Banana is usually eaten as a cooked green vegetable, but a significant income for many farmers is derived from beverage products prepared from particular cultivars. Post-harvest handling, food and beverage products from bananas and the use of banana byproducts are described. The research needs identified include: (1) reduction of the energy and time involved in steaming; (2) determination of the factors affecting the quality of banana juice and beer; (3) determination of the starch properties of Highland bananas; and (4) the use of banana wastes as animal feeds. In Tropical-Science (UK).1996, v. 36(1) p. 54-64


Africa: Rapid mass propagation and diffusion of new banana varieties among small-scale farmers in north western Tanzania

The Kagera Community Development Programme (KCDP) introduced 21 pest and disease resistant banana cultivars among small-scale farmers in north-western Tanzania, where banana is the most important staple food. Since 1997, the programme distributed new varieties to more than 0.5 million people since 1997. The target was to have 1 million plants of superior varieties in the farmers' fields by March 2003. The varieties were evaluated for their palatability and field performance by the local communities. A total of 71 000 in vitro plants of 14 varieties were multiplied in vitro and further multiplied in 35 nurseries. These multiplication fields contain 84 000 stools and are spread over the entire region. To date 340 000 suckers have been distributed by the project and 680 000 suckers from farmer to farmer, amounting to 1 020 000 suckers. The best performing varieties are FHIA 17, FHIA 23, SH3436 9 and Yangambi. Results of an impact assessment survey show that the superior varieties outyield the local varieties by an average of 40%. From authors' summary. In African-Crop-Science-Journal (Uganda). 2004, v. 12(1), special issue, p. 7-17


Africa: Why beer bananas? The case for Rwanda

A participatory rural appraisal of the farmers' perceptions of the relative profitability of the various crops available to them was carried out in the key banana production zones of Rwanda in Nov. and Dec. 2000: Cyangugu (in the southwest), Kibungo (in the southeast), Kigali Rural (in central Rwanda), and Kivu Lake Border (in the northwest). Participants were asked to list all the banana cultivars by use and type. They discussed the importance, advantages and disadvantages of each cultivar and the criteria they use to decide which cultivar to grow. Their opinion on the government's policy of encouraging farmers to shift from beer bananas to cooking bananas, annual food crops or coffee was solicited. It was shown that with 60-90% beer bananas were the most common cultivars in 3 of the 4 growing areas. Cooking bananas are widely viewed as poorly adapted to withstand stresses such as untimely rainfall, drought, declining soil fertility, intensive cropping systems (e.g. intercropping) brought on by land pressure and reduced management levels. Cooking bananas also require a well-developed market infrastructure. From the farmers' point of view, beer bananas remain the most appealing option. Moreover, farmers were neither particularly poor nor affected by food security problems in regions where beer bananas predominate In INFOMUSA (Netherlands), v. 14(1) p. 2-6


Africa: Processing and food uses of bananas and plantains in Cameroon

In 2003, a survey was conducted among housewives and restaurant owners in the towns of Bafoussam and Yaoundé in southern Cameroon to identify the varieties of bananas and plantains mostly used and to describe their recipes. It was confirmed that different varieties are used for different preparations such as roasted or fried plantain, plantain chips, boiled plantain or banana, and pounded plantain. They are eaten with various sauces, vegetables and other food complements. Other dishes include: stuffed plantain or banana; plantain or banana porridge; traditional puree of ripe plantain; bouillon of plantain known as "douala-midi"; stir-fried plantain or " mielemassesse"; "kondre" of plantain and banana; plantain paste or "ntuba"; banana or plantain paste with kidney beans or green leafy vegetables; "malaxé"; "ngomezeck"; and, banana or plantain flour. The preparation of chips, fried, and roasted plantain is mainly done by women and young boys on the streets in an effort to diversify sources of income. These various processing methods and uses help reduce the post-harvest losses in bananas and plantains and add value to these perishable foodstuffs. From authors' summary. In Fruits (France), v. 60(4) p. 245-253


Optimizing enzyme concentration, pH and temperature in banana juice extraction

A 3-level rotatable design was used to determine the optimum conditions for the extraction of banana juice. The effects of temperature (20-50°C), pH (2.7-4.3) and enzyme concentration (0.13-0.47%) on the yield of banana juice were studied after a 4-h reaction time. A second order polynomial equation was used to calculate the yield (Y) from different combinations of temperature (T), pH (P) and enzyme concentration (E). The predictive equation used was: Y = 62.81 + 1.54T - 1.80P + 2.25E + 0.20TT - 0.85TP + 0.36PP - 0.05TE + 0.93PE - 1.13 EE. Using this equation, 5 plots were generated and an optimum point obtained. The optimal conditions for the enzymatic extraction of banana juice were 0.42% enzyme at 35°C with a pH of 3.4. From authors' summary.  In ASEAN-Food-Journal (Malaysia). 1995, v. 10(3) p. 107-111


Effect of pretreatments on drying charateristics and quality of banana slices

The effect of various pre-drying treatments on the drying characteristics and quality of dehydrated banana slices of 5 mm thick was studied. Slices of fresh, fully-mature, green banana fruits of an Indian Dwarf Cavendish variety were subjected to treatments with K-metabisulphate (KMS) alone or in combination with CaCl2 or turmeric for 10 min or with sugar syrup + common salt or CaCl2 for 1 h. Thereafter, they were tray-dried at 60°C for 5 h to 6% moisture. The drying rate was initially high but decreased exponentially with drying time. The pre-treatments improved acceptability of the dehydrated product. The quality of dehydrated banana slices was very good when the slices were pre-treated with KMS 0.25% + CaCl2 0.5 or 1%, or with sugar syrup 60°Brix + CaCl2 0.5%. In Journal-of-Maharashtra-Agricultural-Universities (India), v. 26(3) p. 310-313


Disease incidence, physicochemical changes and taste of bananas treated with acetic acid or vinegar

The effects of pressure infiltration of bananas (Musa AAB "Embul") with 0.2% acetic acid from glacial acetic acid or diluted vinegar (0.2% titratable acidity) on firmness, peel thickness, pH, titratable acidity, and soluble solids content of the fruit were determined. A significant decrease in soluble solids content in the unripe peel, and an increase in firmness of ripe peel were observed in acetic acid-treated fruits. A decrease in thickness of unripe peel and a decrease in soluble solids in ripe peel were observed in vinegar-treated fruits. Bananas treated with either acetic acid or vinegar were preferred significantly. The positive effect of vinegar was less than that of acetic acid. Therefore, artificial vinegar from retailers, which is more freely available than glacial acetic acid, cannot be used to popularize this method of shelf-life extension among local banana handlers in Sri Lanka. A 0.2% acetic acid treatment effectively improves banana taste and shelf-life. From authors' summary. In Fruits (France), 2002, v. 57(1) p. 11-18


The effect of pre-treatments on the reconstitution of hot air-dried plantain

The effect of 2 pre-treatments, moist infusion and high-temperature short-time puffing, on the reconstitution characteristics of hot air-dried plantains was studied. Moist infusion of plantain using a 40°Brix sucrose solution or a 15°Brix sucrose + 60 mg/g NaCl solution, or puffing of blanched plantain for 5 min before the hot air drying treatment improved the reconstitution characteristics of the dried plantain. In Tropical-Science (UK), 2003, v. 43(3) p. 156-161