The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says its banana breeding programme has won an award.
Head of IITA’s Banana Breeding programme, Rony Swennen, according to the Institute, received the “Dedicated Scientist Award for his exemplary commitment to Banana research” during an International Conference on Banana held in Trichy, India on February 22-25, 2020.
Swennen also gave the first keynote presentation of the conference on “Breeding plantain and cooking banana (Matooke and Mchare) hybrids for Africa utilising approaches of global relevance.’’
Other IITA scientists who participated and presented at the conference included Leena Tripathi, Plant Biotechnologist based in IITA-Kenya, who presented on “Application of transgenic and genome editing technologies for improving banana wilt disease” and Brigitte Uwimana, Banana Molecular Breeder based in IITA-Uganda, who presented on “Molecular approaches in banana improvement: Success of ‘Breeding Better Bananas’”.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) organised the conference, in conjunction with the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) and Bioversity International, with the theme: Innovations in Sustainable Production and Value Chain Management in Banana.
The conference provided a forum for banana researchers, policymakers, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the opportunities, challenges, and threats faced by the banana industry and develop mitigating strategies, identify research gaps, and provide solutions.
Another objective of the conference was to pave the way for inter-institutional germplasm exchange and collaborative research programs on banana improvement, production and protection; and to provide a platform for students, aspiring scientists, and entrepreneurs to exchange knowledge, ideas, and experiences; and help to establish linkages and partnerships in research and business.
IITA’s banana program has, over the past 30 years, focused on the delivery of high yielding hybrids of plantain, Matooke and Mchare bananas, for food and income security, especially of smallholder farmers in Africa.