“With optimization ofharvesting time and ripening protocol, innovative packaging of clusters of 4-5 fingersand differentiated branding, a newly introduced Fusarium resistant banana variety gains acceptance in the Japanese market,” Dr. Agustin B. Molina of Bioversity International-Asia and the Pacific Office reported.
‘GCTCV-219’ (for Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variant) is a variety with good resistance to Fusarium wilt(also called Panama disease) Tropical Race 4, and could thus be a potential replacement for the commercial Cavendish variety, which is susceptible to the destructive banana disease.
For the new variety to be accepted in the Japanese market though, some innovations had to be made. According to Dr. Molina, the Japanese market traditionally requires full-hand packaging for which bananas must have compact and uniformly-curved fingers, characteristics of the commercial Cavendish variety. But initial observations showed that ‘GCTCV-219’ has lessuniform hand formation and its fingers are more spread than the commercial Cavendish variety ‘Grand Naine’. Hence, a market strategy was initiated that led to small cluster packaging for ‘GCTCV-219’,containing only about 4-5 fingers per cluster. This gave the new variety a good packaging presentation.In addition, it received“sweeter” branding as compared to other varieties, allowing it an initial nicheshare in the Japanese market.‘GCTCV-219’ is now being sold as premium Cavendish banana under the Miyabi brand and tagged as “elegant taste banana” or “sweet banana”.
This endeavor was carried out by the Philippine Fresh Fruits Corporation, owned by Mr. Lucianao Puyod, one of the farmer-cooperators of the Bioversity International-led projectssupported by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).In 2012, the two institutions embarked on two banana projects to provide Cavendish growers an immediate solution to Fusarium wiltthat was threatening to wipe out banana plantations.Through the projects, ‘GCTCV-219’was introduced to 20farmer-cooperators in Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Compostela Valley, whose farms are totally destroyed by the disease. The growers were given more than 30,000 seedlings for piloting in their farms. Many of these collaborators have already harvested their crops. Results of the field trials showed that ‘GCTCV-219’ is significantly more resistant to Fusarium wilt than ‘Grand Naine’ which was totally destroyed by the disease as early as in the first crop in most farms, while an average of only 1% infection was recorded for ‘GCTCV-219’ even after the ratoon or second crop. The Mauro and Sons Farm in Calinan, Davao has a successful production of ‘GCTCV-219’, the fruits of which are sold in Japan as sweet banana through one multinational company. Other growers sell their fruits to other markets, such as China.
‘GCTCV-219’ is a selection of another Fusarium wilt-resistant variety, ‘GCTCV-119’, developed and shared by the Taiwan Banana Research Institute. In 2002, a National Repository Multiplication Development Center (NRMDC) was established in UP Los Baños, Laguna through Bioversity International and DA-BAR,to serve as repository for improved banana varieties from different countriesthat are collaborating with Bioversity International-coordinated Banana Asia Pacific Network (BAPNET) of which the Philippines is a member. One of the varieties introducedat the NRMDC was the Fusarium wilt resistant‘GCTCV-119’. Through recurrent selection done in Davao, a more improved genotype was developed and eventually called ‘GCTCV-219’.Initial evaluation of the varieties was conducted in partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and Lapanday Fruits Corporation, a Davao-based commercial banana plantation.
“For now, the variety is giving high hopes for the mitigation of this devastating disease threatening the multi-billion peso banana export, an important source of foreign revenue and providing direct livelihood to more than 320,000 people in Mindanao. More than 3,000 hectares were already reported totally devastated by the disease” Dr. Molina said.While he does not recommend ‘GCTCV-219’as a replacement to the current commercial varieties where these are still not affected by the disease and arestill economically grown, this variety isa very good option in case the disease goes out of hand and totally destroys a plantation. As the pathogen stays in the soil for many years,a susceptible variety can no longer become productive,leaving banana growers resorting to less-income crops like corn.
Bioversity International and DA-BAR are continuously working with the Bureau of Plant Industry-Davao National Crop Research and Development Center, Department of Agriculture-Region 11-Regional Crop Protection Center, University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding, private partners, and selected smallholder banana growers in Mindanao for the implementation of the projects.### (Anne Camille B. Brion)
For more information, please contact:
Bioversity International-Asia and the Pacific Office
IRRI, Los Baños, Laguna
Tel/Fax: (049) 536-0532/(02) 580-5600