Improving small farmer supply and adoption of new Banana and Plantain germplasm

02 Jul

A banana tree.

A banana plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working with farmers and end-users to ensure adoption of new Banana and Plantain germplasm.

By Rodomiro Ortiz, PhD,
Guest Contributor to African Seed Network Blog

The successful introduction of new banana and plantain cultivars or hybrids in the production systems depends on creating public awareness among farmers and consumers of the potential benefits of this germplasm. This can be done by utilizing public or private extension services to inform on the main attributes of the new crops (Akele et al., 2000; Faturoti et al., 2006). In addition, as noted by Ferris et al. (1997), an important element for farmers to adopt new Musa germplasm with new flavors and tastes will be to find markets. Agro-processing could open new markets for newly bred germplasm whose fruits are unable to compete directly with the preferred attributes of locally available cultivars or landraces. The highest adoption levels are likely to be obtained for those processing methods that are similar to local or traditional methods of consumption (Lemchi et al., 2005b). Likewise, the availability of clean planting material will enhance the adoption of newly bred germplasm or cultivars by the farming community. In this regard, Ortiz (1997) proposed a scheme to ensure the delivery of clean, true-to-type planting materials of newly bred germplasm to farmers. This scheme consists of pre-basic seed from a specific selection cycle, basic seed for multiplication in the breeding station or breeder’s seed, foundation seed and registered seed in the multiplication center, and certified seed in farmers’ multiplication plots. Indexed stocks in the tissue culture laboratory are called pre-basic propagules, while those sucker propagules in the field nursery (e.g. a small orchard) are named basic propagules. Indexed sucker propagules (also known as foundation propagules) are the planting materials in multiplication plots that are grown in isolated clean fields. Foundation propagules are the source of planting materials for plots of indexed and clean sucker propagules (or registered propagules) in decentralized multiplication centers. Registered propagules are grown in fields with easy access to farmers. These registered propagules are the source of planting materials for certified propagation plots in public or farmers’ fields. Propagation plots from registered propagules are checked by seed inspectors. These fields are used for the sole purpose of propagation of registered stocks. After a satisfactory inspection the suckers are regarded as certified propagules.

The performance of Musa hybrids in smallholdings needs to be assessed together with farmers before introducing them to their farms or orchards. Lemchi et al. (2005a) planted five suckers of a promising plantain hybrid (PITA-14, Ortiz and Vuylsteke, 1998) and the most preferred local False Horn landrace (Agbagba) in each of the selected farm or orchard in the Nigerian belt, and recorded for about two years data on their agronomy, economics, postharvest and marketing. They found that the black leaf streak-resistant PITA-14 had shorter cropping cycle, higher bunch weight, more bunch harvests, and its post-harvest attributes were ranked above than those of the black-leaf streak susceptible Agbagba. The farmers would earn more income from PITA-14 (US$ 5081 ha-1) than from Agbagba (US$ 2632 ha-1) due to reduced cropping cycle and increased bunch weight. As a result of farmer-to-farmer spread, the area with new plantain hybrids increased threefold in 6 years (Faturoti et al., 2009). These results show the advantage of using a farmer participatory and community based-technology delivery approach for newly bred Musa germplasm.

Craenen and Ortiz (2003) suggested that high yielding, newly bred, resistant germplasm can be incorporated into mixed cultivar systems, which are common among the resource-poor farmers in the tropics. These farmers often prefer cropping systems that provide intra-specific (cultivar mixtures) and inter-specific (inter-cropping) diversity to maximize land, use labor efficiently and minimize the risk of crop failure. Deploying resistant hybrids in farmers’ cropping systems in association with their own landraces should be regarded as non-disruptive dissemination (Ortiz and Tenkouano, 2011). In such cultivar mixtures, the resistant hybrids serve as inoculum traps that reduce the spread of the disease to the susceptible landraces and may increase the bunch weight of these landraces that are preferred by farmers due to their culinary and rheological characteristics. This approach was successfully used for large-scale on-farm testing and dissemination of plantain hybrids in West Africa, using a checkerboard design whereby each hybrid was surrounded by four plants of a plantain landrace and vice versa (Ortiz and Tenkouano, 2011). The mixture was effective in reducing black leaf streak severity on the landrace, which allowed the landrace’s bunch weight to increase significantly (> 50%) when grown in mixture with the hybrids. This enhanced performance of the landrace did not alter that of the high yielding resistant hybrids.

Rodomiro Ortiz is Professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding in the Dept. Plant Breeding and Biotechnology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 101, SE 23053, Alnarp, Sweden


Akele, S.A., Isirimah, N.U. Brisibe, A.A. and Ortiz, R. 2000. The role of extension services for the successful introduction of new Musa cultivars in southeastern Nigeria. Acta Hort.540:63–71.

Craenen, K. and Ortiz, R. 2003. Genetic improvement for a sustainable management of resistance. p. 181–198. In: L. Jacome, P. Lepoivre, D. Marin, R. Ortiz, R. Romero and J.V. Escalant (eds.) Mycosphaerella Leaf Spot Diseases of Bananas: Present Status and Outlook. The International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain, Montpellier, France.

Faturoti, B.O, Ajayi, A.R., Baiyeri, P. and Madukwe, M.C. 2009. Impact of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture banana (Musa sp.) production technologies on small holder farmers in southern Nigeria. J. Appl. Sci. 9:2592–2598.

Faturoti, B.O., Emah, G.N., Isife, B.I., Tenkouano, A. and Lemchi, J. 2006. Prospects and determinants of adoption of IITA plantain and banana based technologies in three Niger Delta States of Nigeria. Afr. J. Biotech. 5:1319–1323.

Ferris, R.S.B., Ortiz, R., Chukwu, U., Akalumhe, Y.O., Akele, S., Ubi, A. Vuylsteke, D. 1997. The introduction and market potential of exotic black sigatoka resistant cooking banana cultivars in West Africa. Quarterly J. Intl. Agric. 36:141–152.

Lemchi, J.I., Ezedinma, C.I., Tshiunza, M., Tenkouano, A. and Faturoti, O.B. 2005a. Agroeconomic evaluation of black Sigatoka resistant hybrid plantains under smallholder management systems. Afr. J. Biotech. 4:1045–1053.

Lemchi, J.I., Tshiunza, M., Onyeka, U. and Tenkouano. A. 2005b. Factors driving the adoption of cooking banana processing and utilisation methods in Nigeria. Afr. J. Biotech. 4:1335–1347.

Ortiz, R. 1997. A delivery system of improved banana and plantain propagules. InfoMusa 6(2):14–15.

Ortiz, R. and Tenkouano, A. 2011. Genotype by environment interaction and Musa improvement. p. 235–247. In: M. Pillay and A. Tenkouano (eds.) Banana Breeding. Progress and Challenges. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

Ortiz, R. and Vuylsteke, D. 1998b. ‘PITA-14′: a black sigatoka resistant tetraploid plantain hybrid with virus tolerance. HortScience 33:360–361.


Posted by on July 2, 2012 in General


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3 responses to “Improving small farmer supply and adoption of new Banana and Plantain germplasm

  1. Akinbiyi Akinsanya

    August 18, 2012 at 4:29 am

    Thanks for this educative and motivational tread.
    As a fresh starter in plantain plantation, where can I get to buy the sucker and also which is better between the Propagules and Suckers.
    Again how best is the Local false horn landrace (AGBAGBA) being describe (botanically) aside (Musa sp).
    Yours faithfully,


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