How tissue culture is helping Bengal's banana production for Cold Storage
West Bengal rarely comes to mind when one thinks of bananas. While the state has what it takes to grow them - the right type of soil and weather conditions - it accounts for barely 4% of national output and is not even among the top five banana producers in India. The lowly status in this field hasn't discouraged West Bengal from trying innovative ways to improve its performance.
Tissue culture, a process of crop propagation in a test tube under controlled and hygienic conditions, has helped West Bengal make banana cultivation an attractive proposition for farmers. The method improves yield and quality and has revolutionised the horticultural industry.
In about five years since it was adopted, tissue cultured banana cultivation in West Bengal has grown significantly and now accounts for a third of the state's annual production of 11.7 lakh tonnes, a level that's expected to rise in the years ahead.
Alongside, the look and the taste of bananas have improved. Banana cultivators are getting a higher price for their crop, too - Rs 10.50 per kg on average from Rs 7 per kg in 2011 – without consumers feeling the pinch. Nadia farmer Isad SK and Murshidabad farmer Nurul Islam Mondal confirmed that the G9 variety of bananas, a high-yielding type propagated by tissue culture, resulted in about 40% higher income for them than the traditional variety called Robusta. Buoyed by the success, the West Bengal government has decided to focus on improving the production and quality of mangos and litchis.
"A couple of business houses are keen to enter the state's fruit production space. One such group has already taken land in Nadia and Hooghly," said Pradip Majumdar, agriculture advisor to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. "If the quality of fruits improve and production increases, farmers will get better returns.
By BOA Bureau