ENDURE’s Banana Case Study has been a truly international effort, bringing together researchers from as far afield as the French West Indies, the Canary Islands and Cameroon, in addition to the expertise based here in mainland Europe. The results of this international effort are now being made available in a series of publications in ENDURE’s From Science to Field series.
The leaflets reflect the very particular challenges faced by banana growers, who are often based in climatic zones particularly susceptible to pests and diseases and whose production is centred on the highly performing but susceptible Cavendish variety.
The need to find safer, more environmentally friendly, ways of producing bananas is spelled out in the first leaflet in the series, Challenging short and mid-term strategies to reduce the use of pesticides in banana production .
It identifies both the scale of the banana sector (59 million tonnes of dessert bananas were produced worldwide in 2007) and the heavy pesticide use that this can sometimes entail (more than 70kg of active ingredient per hectare per year in Belize, for example).
The authors note that banana-producing areas of the European Community (principally Guadeloupe, Martinique and the Canary Islands) have considerably lower pesticide use, due to factors such as the absence of key diseases, efforts to introduce alternative cropping methods and the impact of EC legislation. This legislation has driven the search for alternatives to pesticides, say researchers, and makes them well placed to assess and recommend alternatives.
The leaflet then examines short and mid-term solutions for four major types of banana diseases and pests: Mycosphaerella foliar diseases, the black weevil, plant-parasitic nematodes and weeds. It also examines the use of biocontrol agents and what is required to promote their use in EC banana-producing areas.
Guide Number 2, Mycosphaerella foliar diseases of bananas: towards an integrated protection , examines in detail Black Leaf Streak Disease (BLSD, caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis ) and Sigatoka Disease (SD, caused by M. musicola ), which, it says, are the main parasitic problem for export bananas. They cause both yield loss, through damage to the foliage, but more importantly for banana producers, they cause bananas to ripen prematurely and render them unfit for export.
In most countries banana exports can only be achieved through intensive chemical control, with fungicides applied systematically following a fixed-schedule treatment programme involving 40-60 applications per year to protect young leaves against infection. However, say researchers, using forecasting systems to schedule treatments according to the evolution of the disease can reduce treatments to between five and 14 per year.
Researchers suggest that in the short-term forecasting strategies should be used where possible and, in cases where fungicide resistance rules out the use of forecasting, fungicides with low negative environmental impact be introduced. In the mid to long-term they suggest resistant cultivars be developed and introduced into banana cropping systems.
Guide Number 3, Integrated Pest Management of black weevil in banana cropping systems , examines Cosmopolites sordidus (Coleoptera: curculionidae), the black weevil which is a major pest of banana for both export farms and for smallholders in developing countries.
It suggests a range of IPM strategies including the introduction of new cropping practices, such as fallows, and the use of pheromone-pitfall traps. These measures, say researchers, have considerably reduced insecticide use in both the French West Indies and the Canary Islands. Because of the patchy distribution of C. sordidus and the ability of weevils to invade neighbouring fields, these methods should be deployed at the farm and landscape scale, say researchers.
To further refine IPM measures for controlling black weevil in the future, researchers suggest the use of biocontrol agents such as entomopathogenic fungi and nematodes, and designing new cropping systems through the use of modelling tools.
Guide Number 4, Integrated management of banana nematodes: Lessons from a case study in the French West Indies , examines steps taken to control these tiny worms whose proliferation not only disrupts water and nutrient uptake and delays growth, but may cause banana plants to topple over.
Until recently, most methods for controlling banana nematodes relied on the use of chemical nematicides, many of which are gradually being banned in Europe. Here the researchers examine steps taken in the French West Indies, where integrated plant-parasitic nematode management has included soil sanitation measures such as improved fallow to cleanse the soil of the burrowing nematode Radopholus similis , water isolation ditches to delay recontamination of fallows and already sanitized plots, and the additional use of non-host plants including cash crops, pasture grasses and legumes.
Other important steps are the monitoring of soil sanitation before planting new banana crops, the use of healthy planting material, mainly tissue culture banana plants, and the use of nematode-tolerant banana varieties and, in the medium-term, nematode-resistant varieties. Researchers also say there is a need for further integration of management strategies and the reintroduction of biodiversity to ensure sustainable control of nematodes.
A fifth guide will be published next month examining banana production under IPM and organic systems in the Canary Islands, where growers have more than 100 years’ experience of producing the fruit and have combined traditional practices such as the input of organic matter with modern techniques such as the use of banana vitro plantlets.
|Guide Number 1: Challenging short and mid-term strategies to reduce the use of pesticides in banana production||
Banana Case Study Guide Number 1 [pdf - 514.46 kB]
|Guide Number 2: Mycosphaerella foliar diseases of bananas: towards an integrated protection||
Banana Case Study Guide Number 2 [pdf - 514.03 kB]
|Guide Number 3: Integrated Pest Management of black weevil in banana cropping systems||
Banana Case Study Guide Number 3 [pdf - 618.99 kB]
|Guide Number 4: Integrated management of banana nematodes: Lessons from a case study in the French West Indies||
Banana Case Study Guide Number 4 [pdf - 569.75 kB]
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