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Monday, Feb 11, 2002

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`Diseased succours cause 90% loss' -- TN banana farmers switch varieties

L.N. Revathy

COIMBATORE, Feb. 10

BANANA farmers in Tiruchi belt have switched over to other commercial varieties such as `nei poovan or yalli poovan and rasthaali' during the current season.

Market sources say that there is a very good demand for these varieties particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

It is reliably learnt that the diversification to other varieties was mainly because of the glut situation in the `moris' banana variety. Prices plunged to all-time low levels during the last season.

Dr S. Sathiamoorthy, Director, National Research Centre on Banana, Tiruchi told Business Line that at least 40 per cent of the farmers had switched over to other commercial varieties.

He lamented that a majority of the farmers (at least 90 per cent) were ignorant when it came to selection of succours. ``All other technologies fail if the basic raw material (the succour) is diseased. The planting material will have to be selected with care,'' he said and pointed out that the crop loss was as high as 90 per cent because of diseased material.

A survey has shown that not a single plant of the `mondan or cooking banana' variety escaped from the banana brack mosaic virus on the Thiruvaiyaru in the region.

``This is easily identifiable. There are pinkish streaks on the stem,'' the NRCB Director said.

NRCB had in the last year-and-a-half been advocating against conventional planting material. The growers have been advised to take to tissue culture plantings to avoid the incidence of the virus.

He said the Union Government had constituted a committee about three months ago to evaluate the tissue culture plantings. The committee is understood to have visited companies engaged in tissue culture business in Bangalore, Hosur and Maharashtra and given some guidelines.

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