Banana is an important fruit crop in the Philippines due to its potential both in the local and international market. The Philippines is the 3rd largest producer of banana in the world next to India and China and is the 4th largest agricultural produce of the Philippines in 2011 recorded at 9.16M metric tons (mt) valued at US$ 2.32B.
The Cavendish banana is the export variety constituting 50% of the country’s production and provides employment to almost 330,000 Filipinos. On the other hand, Lakatan is the most common dessert banana in the country, while Saba is the cooking-type banana. While banana production in the country is high, it remains to be greatly affected by various diseases such as Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense, Foc) with tropical race 4 (TR4) threatening the Cavendish varieties; banana bunchy top virus (BBTV); Sigatoka; bacterial wilt; and insect pests.
Because of the major effect of pests and diseases on banana productivity, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) crafted the Banana Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) which aims to reduce incidence of Foc TR4 on Cavendish in Mindanao by 90-95%; increase average yield of Lakatan from 21.58 mt/ha to 34.52 mt/ha and reduce incidence of BBTV from 70% to 20%; and increase production of Saba for banana chips production by 33% per cropping season.
The program S&T Management Approaches against Fusarium wilt on Cavendish in Mindanao intends to address the threat of Foc TR4 through the use of resistant varieties that are suitable under Philippine condition and acceptable to the export market. The use of these varieties can be complemented with the application of commercially available microbial agents that have the potential to lessen the impact of Foc TR4.
The Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variants (GCTCV) 218 and 219 are the Cavendish somaclones from Taiwan that show promise as alternative to Grand Nain (GN), which produces an average of 30 kg/bunch. GCTCV 218 produces fingers and yield that are almost similar to GN at an average of 25 kg/bunch. GCTCV 219, on the other hand, has relatively lower yield at an average of 18 kg/bunch but is relatively sweeter and can be marketed as highland banana.
Greenhouse and field trials on the use of commercially available microbial agents showed that application of Trichoderma harzianum enhances action against Foc TR4 in GCTCV 218, the moderately resistant somaclone.
Practices such as removal of infected bracts and intensive fertilizer application can aid in Foc TR4 management. Based on current studies, the combination of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) and T. harzianum works best in lowering Foc TR4 incidence. GCTCV 219, which is very resistant to Foc TR4, no longer requires application of microbial agents but should be properly managed.
Since 1999, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has been working on the development of BBTV-resistant Lakatan. Mutant lines were developed through irradiation and is currently showing intermediate resistance to BBTV. Disease spread was observed to be slower in Lakatan lines compared to ordinary Lakatan. The performance of the lines are being tested in Quirino, Laguna, Batangas, and Davao City and shows varying performance across location: 270-405 days to harvest; six to nine hands per bunch; and 12-26 kg per bunch.
DOST-PCAARRD will showcase BBTV-resistant Lakatan and Fusarium Wilt-resistant Cavendish including other agri-aqua S&T research and development (R&D) outputs on March 2-4, 2016 during the SIPAG FIESTA at its headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.
SIPAG, a technology transfer strategy, embodies the Council’s commitment to DOST’s Outcome One in a bid to ensure that the fruits of R&D activities for the agri-aqua sectors will be a blessing for every Juan.
by Sharie Al-Faiha A. Abustan, Gretchen O. Nas, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service