You are here
New banana variety to boost cost efficiency
Local banana growers across the island are set to benefit from the availability of a new variety of the plant, which promises an increase in cost efficiencies by as much as 30 per cent. The new variety of bananas and plantains, known as the Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA) variety, is said to be more resistant to the dreaded black sigatoka disease, has a lower cost of production, 30 to 50 per cent greater yield, shorter preparation and cooking time and better consumer quality, than traditional varieties.
It is also expected that the new crops, which were developed by Dr Phil Rowe in Honduras, will help to create a sustainable value-added market within approximately three years, according to the European Union (EU). The local banana industry has been under immense threat in recent years from various angles, including the ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which sought to remove preferential market access by the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, of which Jamaica is a member. The suspension of local banana exports to Europe in 2008 was a direct result of this decision.
This, in addition to a number of devastating hurricanes, as well as a steady number of diseases and pests have helped to cripple the banana export trade in Jamaica. Among the most dreaded of diseases is the black sigatoka, a fungal disease which has reached global epidemic proportions. The effective control of this disease has contributed to a very high cost of producing bananas and plantains in Jamaica, amounting to an estimated 25 per cent of costs.
Nevertheless, banana remains one of the most popular fruits in Jamaica, where it is widely utilised in both its green and ripened forms. Data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries show that 98 per cent of Jamaicans eat banana regularly, noting that 30 per cent of those do not purchase the fruit.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roger Clarke, says protecting the crop is vital to food security, as despite its challenges, the local banana trade is a lucrative venture, and with continued inter-regional exports, provides a golden opportunity for banana growers to expand production.
Jamaica Information Service
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.