Saint Lucia was struck by hurricane Elsa on July 2nd, 2021, and since the event, more than 60% of the banana plants were snapped or toppled, causing the banana industry to be severely impaired. Due to climate change, people are facing more and more extreme weather. In the past, St. Lucia encountered a hurricane every 5 years or more.
In more recent years, hurricanes occur every 3 years. To develop a sustainable banana industry, the Taiwan Technical Mission and the Banana Productivity Improvement Project had introduced a Taiwanese banana variety ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ to assist banana farmers to reduce their loss during hurricanes.
Taiwanese banana variety ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ is a Cavendish banana variety with a shorter height and thicker stem. According to the results from the 6 trial plots around the island, ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ is 2 ft. shorter than the common variety ‘Valery’, which makes it more resistant to high winds.
After hurricane Elsa, the 2 varieties of banana plants in the trial plots were both damaged, but there was significant difference between them. The ‘Valery’ had a 42% rate of snapped or toppled trees, while the ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ had only 18%. Twenty percent less damage was found in ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’.
This could help banana farmers reduce their loss in the age of climate change, bringing a turn for the better. It also opens the door to a more sustainable banana industry.