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India works on cyclone-resilient banana variety

The National Research Centre for Banana's (NRCB) has released three new banana varieties - Kaveri Saba, Kaveri Kalki, Kaveri Sugantham - for the benefit of the farming community. According to NRCB director S. Uma, the tissue culture plantlets of the new varieties will be available  from next year onwards.

Uma was addressing a banana field day/seminar on the recent interventions for doubling the farmer's income on the 26th foundation day of the institute in Trichy. She said that the centre would soon set up an incubation centre to commercialize all the technologies. The new facility would help banana growers to utilize entire research technologies of the institute.

Kaveri Kalki, the dwarf new variety of Karpooravalli banana, will have only half of the height of a normal banana tree and it does not require propping. The bananas will mature two months before normal varieties, principal scientist of the centre R Selvaraj said. "Kaveri Kalki even withstood the severe cyclonic winds of Gaja. We have raised Poovan along with Kaveri Kalki. While the entire Poovan trees fell down during the cyclone, not even a single tree of Kaveri Kalki sustained even minor damage. The input cost also is very minimal when compared to other varieties," he said.

Kalki Sugantham will have a pleasing fragrance at the time of the ripening, while Saba is a curry variety, not eaten as a fruit, he added.

Though NRCB Trichy has introduced hundreds of new varieties and technologies, utilization of the institute's expertise by the farmers is not up to the mark, S Uma said. Despite the volume of production of banana has multifold for the last several decades, the state of banana growers is remaining unchanged, she said.

She said that another milestone of the centre is the development of next-generation tissue culture technology with a reduced cost per tissue culture plants. The research centre has started growing banana from an embryo. One ml of cell culture can produce 5,000 plantlets. When the new technology will come into force, farmers can have each tissue culture banana plantlet for Rs 3 whereas now it is being sold for Rs 15, the director said.


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