BuZARDI in collaboration with the National Banana Research Programme in Kawanda is making stride to develop better-quality cooking and dessert banana hybrids that are resistant to pests (banana weevils and nematodes), diseases (sigatoka and fusarium wilt) and environmental stress through conventional breeding.
Between 2017 to 2018, such efforts have resulted into production and release of good cooking matooke banana varieties like M9/Kabana 6H, M19/NAROBAN 1, M20/ NAROBAN 2, M25/NAROBAN 3, M27/NAROBAN 4 and M30/ NAROBAN 5.
The vast number of newly produced banana genotypes at different stages of evaluation (preliminary yield trial and advanced yield trial) at BuZARDI exhibit differences in bunch size, finger length and width, finger peel, finger pulp as well as in chemical compositions. Such variations affect the cooking qualities of a particular genotype when prepared for food.
This variability in bunch traits among the banana genotypes across the different stages of evaluation is of great value and therefore, a clear indicator that these genotypes have different potential uses which are not yet identified. Hence, further assessment of these genotypes under trial to fully determine whether they can be valuable in other ways apart from providing excellent steamed food have already been initiated at BuZARDI.
A bunch from a given genotype can provide different products with different tastes if prepared for food in different ways. Therefore, some genotypes are likely to provide excellent results if prepared for a given product and poor results if prepared for another product.
Bananas can be used in various ways, for example, eaten after peeling and steaming, as desserts, juice extraction, brewing to make local beer, flour for making porridge and baking, making pancakes, chips and crisps among other potential uses.
With such a great number of products that can be acquired from bananas, the newly produced banana genotypes at different stages of evaluation are being assessed to determine their suitability to produce such food products.
This will also increase banana consumption and utilisation as people from different communities have different tastes and preferences for banana products.
The National Banana Research Programme awarded a certificate of appreciation to the ABBB (Accelerated Breeding of Better Bananas) research team at BuZARDI in recognition of its outstanding performance as the best-off station team for the year 2021.