THE POTENTIAL OF TISSUE CULTURE BANANA (MUSA SPP.) TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA AND THE ANTICIPATED LIMITATIONS AND CONSTRAINTS
The use of tissue culture (TC) technology to propagate banana plants gives growers several advantages over the conventional propagation. This technology is an indispensable tool for the facilitation of quick, and en masse, multiplication of adequate planting material of indigenous and exotic banana (Musa spp.) clones and production of disease-free planting material. The technology also rejuvenates the plants resulting in more vigorous growth, higher yields, better quality fruits, earlier fruiting and more uniform crop than those produced by conventional means. Additionally, banana seed corms are bulky and expensive to transport and subject to delay for extended periods for phyto-sanitary inspection. TC plants are relatively inexpensive to ship and easier to be certified by plant inspectors since they are packaged in sterile containers. In spite of these advantages, TC technology remains little known or underexploited in Africa due to a number of constraints. Africa has limited TC facilities and personnel to operate TC laboratories and virus indexing services (TC process does not eliminate viruses), especially in commercial production. A durable system is needed to help the continent to engage in cross-border business of TC banana planting material to enable improved and more sustainable banana production. Using best practices and TC laboratories, workable and practical models for the distribution of TC material within and between African countries face significant challenges. In addition, major constraints persist that prevent farmers from adopting TC banana technology. These include lack of credit for farmers to purchase the planting material and the high inputs required to realize optimum yields, while knowledge on the agronomic practices required for dealing with TC plants remains to be disseminated and documented. Reliability of banana markets is catalytic in promoting production and consumption, which in turn would impact on better sales of TC planting material. Most banana markets in Africa remain rudimentary, resulting in high postharvest losses, reducing farmers incomes and discouraging them from adopting the technology. The future for the TC adoption in Africa is bleak, unless the constraints highlighted in this paper are addressed.
Murugi Kahangi, E. (2010). THE POTENTIAL OF TISSUE CULTURE BANANA (MUSA SPP.) TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA AND THE ANTICIPATED LIMITATIONS AND CONSTRAINTS. Acta Hortic. 879, 281-288
in vitro, propagation