Tissue culture to bring banana output revolution in India

BHAGALPUR: Aimed at augmenting banana yield in the region, the Bihar Agricultural University (BAU) has embarked on the ‘plant tissue culture method’ for commercial banana production, with help of the Tissue Culture Laboratory at BAU .

Apart from better yield, the tissue culture method is also useful in warding fruit diseases that not only reduce production, but also cause wilting of the banana flowers at early stages. Bhagalpur district’s Naugachia sub-division is known as ‘Banana Bowl’ for cultivating the most fragrant varieties of banana besides litchi and mango.
Annual yield is more than 3 lakh metric tonnes of ‘Hari Chaal’ and ‘Robusta’ varieties of banana, and those are transported to different states. As such, the tissue culture method is likely to aid in better and disease free banana production, said sources. The problem of preserving banana yield due to its low shelf-life can be solved through tissue culture method of banana cultivation as the new breeds of banana created through this technique have better shelf-lives.

Plant tissue culture is a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells, tissues or organs under sterile conditions on a nutrient culture medium, said a scientist at BAU. It is widely used to produce clones of a plant in a method known as micro-propagation in order to produce exact or better variety of plants for good flowers, fruits or have other desirable qualities, he continued.
The production of plants in sterile containers is also useful in reducing chances of transmitting diseases, pests, and pathogens, added the scientist, saying that it also helps in eliminating viral and other infections from the specific plants and allows to quickly multiply these plants as ‘cleaned stock’ for horticulture and agriculture purposes.

Dr M Haque, Senior Scientist in the Department of Agronomy and PRO at BAU, said that it is a revolutionary method for augmenting banana yield in order to cater to the demands of commercial supply. “We are working on G-9 (Grand Nain) variety of bananas that is one of the most commonly cultivated bananas, and has double the yield percentage than the other varieties,” said Dr Haque.

Banana plants grown with the help of tissue culture method are the solution to the ‘Panama Wilt’ disease which is the biggest threat to banana cultivation in Bihar, he added, saying that it is also the solution to low shelf-life and preservation issues with banana yield. “We are able to produce more than 10 lacs of banana plants at the ‘Tissue Culture Laboratory’ for the banana growers,” claimed Dr Haque, adding that it is going to revolutionize the agro-economy at the grassroots’ level.