|Authors: ||E. Njukwe, D. Amah, R. Ndango, A. Tenkouano|
|Keywords: ||banana and plantain, disease resistance, fast-track release, food security|
Beginning 2001, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cameroon launched a systematic deployment effort for resistant banana and plantain (Musa spp.) hybrids in collaboration with the plant health regulatory services of Nigeria and Cameroon.
These hybrids were field established at the Mbalmayo research farm of IITA for evaluation of their agronomic and postharvest compliance.
Data were collected for three production cycles on disease response, phenology, yield, and fruit quality.
Twenty-one hybrids were evaluated in comparison with the most popular indigenous landraces (‘Assang-Da’, ‘Ebang’, ‘Elat’, and ‘Essong’). Of these, three triploid hybrids (‘PITA 21’, ‘PITA 23’ and ‘FHIA 25’) and four tetraploid hybrids (‘PITA 14’, ‘PITA 17’, ‘BITA 3’ and ‘FHIA 23’) were selected with input from farmers.
They exhibited higher levels of resistance to black leaf streak (BLS), shorter growth cycle and higher bunch yield in comparison to the landraces.
When grown in mixture with landraces, the hybrids mitigate the intra-field propagation of BLS between susceptible plants, thereby enhancing the performance of the landraces under natural BLS infection.
This constitutes an attractive scheme for deployment of the improved hybrids through on-farm participatory evaluation in Cameroon.
In 2003, we initiated an outreach program with non-governmental organizations and farmer associations, aiming to foster a fast-track cultivar testing and dissemination scheme coupled with hands-on training in healthy sucker production and postharvest processing options to overcome scarcity of planting material and to carter for the anticipated excesses.
This scheme fits within and complements programs of the Cameroonian government for banana and plantain, with the main objective to increase the productivity of banana and plantain in Cameroon and to enhance food security and develop trade opportunities.
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