Country and institutional leaders of national research institutions in the region convened for the 8th Banana Asia Pacific Network (BAPNET) Steering Committee (SC) Meeting in Kaohsiung, Taiwan on 23-24 November 2012. Held every other year, the SC meeting has served as a platform to review and discuss R&D collaborative activities and priorities and to fortify the banana programs of network members.
For the 8th SC Meeting, focus shifted towards more efficient research approaches that aim to increase the relevance of banana research results to the target end-users.
An activity that was discussed was a banana R&D priority setting exercise that was designed by CGIAR’s Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). This exercise makes use of the online platform to draw information on banana production, constraints and opportunities as viewed by various banana stakeholders, including experts in the region. This involves the quantification of yield responses and parameters on banana production such as number of beneficiary households and production and research costs. This six-step methodology would also determine the constraints limiting or reducing banana yield and farmers’ income from producing and marketing bananas.
Survey participants will assess the importance of different research options and prioritize possible research areas. These research options will be evaluated in a workshop that will take place in Uganda on 8-11 April 2013.
Complementing this priority setting exercise is a mapping tool which would provide spatial information on the regional banana production systems. Data on banana growing areas, production systems, production profile and technologies, and abiotic/biotic factors that delimit country production would be gathered. This would be looked at in the context of the changing climate to project future scenarios that would bear impact on the entire banana production system.
Dr Staver Charles, senior scientist and priority setting coordinator of Bioversity, explained these approaches during the event. Another important discussion during the meeting was the Musa conservation strategies presented by Dr Julie Sardos of Bioversity and Dr Binita Uma of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Workshops ensued after each topical presentation. Later, results of discussions and workshops were presented in the plenary.
Also, included in the program was the revisiting of BAPNET priorities by Dr Agustin Molina and towards the end, future network plans have been drawn and agreed upon. Advances on on-going R&D on Foc in Asia were reviewed and next steps planned.
The positive research outcome on the evaluation of somaclones from the Taiwan Banana Research Institute (TBRI) pointed to the importance of pursuing activities on somaclonal selection as an approach to Foc management. Trainings on somaclonal selection as an approach to Musa management, to be conducted by TBRI, were also suggested.
Also joining the event was Mr WD Chen, Deputy Minister of the Council of Agriculture (COA) of Taiwan.
The 7th SC Meeting was held in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2010, which was hosted by the Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute (FAVRI), headed by Dr Trinh Khac Quang and immediate past Chairman of BAPNET.
The 9th SC Meeting will be held in the Philippines on 2014, to be spearheaded by the network’s newly elected Chairman, Dr Chih-Ping Chao, director of Taiwan Banana Research Institute.