Indian National Banana Festival: Focus on genetics & molecular breeding

Genetic engineering, molecular breeding and organic farming were the central topics of discussion during the five-day National Banana Festival, that drew to a close in rural Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Banana farming assumes great importance in the Indian scenario, since the country ranks first in global banana production and accounts for 25.58 % of global production. It also makes for 36.6% of the total fruit production in the country.

Banana and plantain are widely grown in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Bihar, east Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the North-Eastern States. The banana industry provides employment to thousands of people. It is also a fact that only 1 % of bananas are exported.

Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh said that the government was committed to providing all possible assistance to farmers of horticulture crops. He pointed to the efforts by the Central and State governments that have succeeded in adding 21,200 hectares to the total banana cultivable area in Kerala since 2013-14. reported how Radha Mohan Singh called for the need to conserve the available genetic diversity when urbanisation and erosion of wild bananas in their natural habitat was discussed.

Banana and plantain breeding has its inherent complex issues, but the latest biotechnology tools and approaches have been helpful in achieving projected results. The real impact of these approaches will be visible in the near future.

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