Abundant harvest of Taiwanese banana variety in Saint Lucia

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Abundant harvest of Taiwanese banana variety in Saint Lucia

(PRESS RELEASE) – To overcome the global climate change and enhance the income of the banana industry, Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) and Banana Productivity Improvement Project (BPIP) introduced a new dwarf variety of Taiwanese banana ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ in 2019.

These bananas planted at six demonstration farms as Fond Estate, Union, Ranju Lands, Roseau, Troumasse and Woodlands in Saint Lucia. The trail of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ has produced its first harvest in January 2020. The Taiwan Technical Mission will compare the fruit yield, quality, and the taste preferred by consumers between ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ and the local banana variety. With this survey, TTM and BPIP hope to find a more suitable banana variety for farmers that will benefit the local banana industry.

The farmers used to propagate the bananas through conventional planting material without replacing the new seedlings for several years in Saint Lucia. However, the banana plants keep growing taller and higher and it becomes more difficult for farmers to maintain the good practices of banana cultivation. It also becomes hard to control the plant disease and insect pressure in the banana field. Moreover, the banana trees were more easily damaged by strong winds and torrential rains.

This traditional method of banana breeding would decrease the quantity of bananas required to export to the EU market. Although some farmers traditionally used the rope to physically restrict the height of the banana plant, the effect was limited.

The production specialist from TTM, Mr. Johnson Wu who has worked in Taiwan Banana Research Institute, mentioned that the acclimation process of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ was a tough challenge. First, A total of 9,000 tissue culture seedlings from Taiwan had to be planted in Saint Lucia, with the survival rate of these banana seedlings being only 35%. After that, these had to be transplanted at Union demonstration farm and cultivated for another 7 months.

After 7 months, ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ healthily grew at the Union demonstration farm and was already flowering and began setting fruit. According to the survey of assistant technician Bo Ying Lin, Chih Min Yu, and Rui Sian Jérémie Wang, who compared the morphological character of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ and the local banana variety which were grown in the same area.

The result shows that ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ has a shorter and more consistent growth pattern due to the tissue culture seedling. Besides this, the height of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ was significantly shorter than the local banana variety, and the stem perimeter of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ was longer than local banana variety. It means that the banana ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’ could be tolerant of high winds which would make it easier for farmers to maintain proper cultivation practices and make it easier to harvest.

Due to the traits of ‘Tai-Chiao No.2’, this new banana variety would not only be an excellent option for climate change adaptation measures, but also improve the quality of outputs for farmers giving them a higher quality fruit.

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