|Authors: ||A.B. Molina, V.G.O. Sinohin, F.M. dela Cueva, A.V. Esguerra, S.S. Crucido, E. Vida, B.E. Temanel, E.A. Anit, J.E. Eusebio|
|Keywords: ||banana, 'Lakatan', tissue-culture, disease-free planting material|
Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) is a major constraint to banana production in the Philippines.
It severely affects the most popular local cultivar ‘Lakatan’ (AAA), which is primarily grown on smallholdings by poor farmers.
Severe epidemics of BBTV practically eliminated the livelihoods of many such growers in the northern Philippines, who used to supply ‘Lakatan’ to Manila.
The huge local demand for ‘Lakatan’ has resulted in the establishment of big commercial plantations in the southern Philippines.
These enterprises have the resources to manage BBTV by growing virus-free, tissue-cultured plantlets in an annual or 2-year cropping system.
In the 1990s, many government-run tissue-culture laboratories were established to produce disease-free planting materials for small-scale growers.
However, this programme was not able to realise its aim of bringing an affordable and sustainable supply of clean seedlings to farmers, as they were not cost effective.
Also, small-scale farmers were not familiar with the production practices required for tissue-cultured plantlets, and there was a low uptake of the technology.
Since then, private tissue-culture laboratories have succeeded in producing ‘Lakatan’ plantlets at less than half of the cost of those produced by government-run laboratories while ensuring high seedling quality.
A rehabilitation programme to restore the livelihoods of small-scale ‘Lakatan’ growers has begun.
Rooted tissue-cultured seedlings produced at participating private tissue-culture laboratories are sent by air to Manila.
They are then delivered to the provinces where they are reared to planting stage in village nurseries.
Growers are also being trained on improving their banana production system, and the advantages of using disease-free, tissue-cultured planting material, as opposed to suckers, are being demonstrated.
Although plants derived from tissue culture became re-infected in the field, the symptoms appeared late and usually occurred in the ratoon crop.
In heavily infested areas, the value of annual cropping was evident.
This work is helping in the formulation of a sustainable ‘Lakatan’ production system for small-scale farmers.
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