A total of 504 banana experts from around the world participated in an online survey conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Programme on Roots, Tubers and Bananas priority setting study between 18 January and 12 March 2013.
The aim of the survey was to elicit the most important constraints limiting or reducing banana yields and farmers’ income as well as to identify the most important research areas for future investment.
The next step in the priority setting exercise will be an expert workshop conducted on 8 – 11 April in Kampala, Uganda which will be accompanied by an e-Forum to facilitate the input of the wider banana research and development community.
The survey was structured into 5 sections: profile of respondents; yield limiting constraints; income increasing factors; ranking of research options; and the assessment of the importance of general research areas.
Profile of respondents
Most of the survey respondents are scientists at national agricultural research organizations (33%) or scientists at universities (20%). The large majority (54%) of the survey participants indicated a national focus of their banana work with more than 50 countries represented. Roughly a third each of the respondents are from Africa (37%), Latin America and the Caribbean (33%) and Asia (23%), respectively. The share of women in the sample was 26% and 57% of the respondents were between 46-65 years old and 67% had 6 or more years of experience in banana research or development.
Major constraints to yields
The five highest ranking single constraints based on all responses are i) planting material infested with pests and/or diseases; ii) black leaf streak/black Sigatoka; iii) water deficits; iv) Fusarium wilt; and v) planting material with non-uniform yield potential. However, the scores look different for different cultivar groups and regions (e.g. BBTV highest ranking yield constraint among respondents from South Africa and Xanthomonas wilt for East African Highland bananas). On average respondents allocated 16% of points to planting material constraints, 15% to climatic constraints, 19% to soil constraints, 29% to diseases; 17% to pests and 4% to other biotic constraints.
Income increasing factors
The five highest ranking single income increasing factors based on all responses are i) higher yield; ii) better quality of bunch and/or fingers; iii) improved information and knowledge on agronomic practices; iv) improved information and knowledge on pest/disease management; and v) lower cost of fertilizer and pesticides. Again, the scores look different for different cultivar groups and regions (e.g. lower cost of irrigation among top five factors among respondents from South Africa and improved access to urban areas and local markets in the top 5 list among respondents reporting on East African Highland, ABB cooking and diploid cultivar groups). On average respondents allocated 34% of points to production related factors, 26% to factors related to post-harvest, processing and marketing, 21% to information and knowledge factors, 10% and 8% to socio-economic and policy factors, respectively, and 1% to other factors.
Ranking research options
A total of 71 different research options were evaluated by respondents using a scale from 1 (not important) to 5 (extremely important). Five technology options have an average score larger than 4 (very important): breeding for higher yields, research on the management of fungal leaf diseases, breeding for resistance to fungal leaf diseases, strategies to improve soil fertility, and methods for improved phytosanitary and physiological quality of planting material. Again the average scores vary considerably between regions and cultivar groups.
Importance of general research areas
The top five research areas for the whole sample are: Research on disease and pest management (excl. resistant varieties) (12% of points), breeding for higher yield (10%), breeding for biotic stress-resistance (9%), crop management and production system research (9%), and genetic resource management research (8%). Again, there are substantial differences between regions, but also between male and female respondents. The women in the sample assign significantly fewer points to the area of breeding for higher yield, and significantly more points to research on post-harvest handling and processing technology as well as socio-economic research.
The results from the survey will feed into the upcoming expert workshop and e-Forum where participants will be asked to select 10-15 distinct research lines matching the major constraints. For these research lines, parameters such as expected yield, production cost effects, research costs and development time as well as gender, environment, natural resource and health implications will be estimated. The e-Forum is open to all members of the banana community and we very much welcome your contribution.