ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has achieved a breakthrough in banana production, as the country’s apex agricultural research institution has developed two varieties of the fruit for cultivation in Sindh.
“The new varieties — NIGAB-1 and NIGAB-2 — will boost banana production in the country, which will further help in meeting domestic requirements as well as export targets,” said Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan. He lauded the scientists involved in the development of NIGAB varieties.
According to details, the new varieties of banana were developed at the National Institute for Genomic and Advanced Biotechnology (NIGAB) of the National Agricultural Research Centre, where 300,000 disease-free plants have so far been produced through tissue culture.
These high-yielding varieties will have more shelf life, a basic requirement for export.
The two varieties have been approved by the Sindh Seed Council for commercial cultivation in the province, which is the largest grower of the fruit in the country.
Statistics showed that banana is cultivated over an area of 80,000 acres in Pakistan. However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, per-acre yield in Pakistan is lower when compared to India and China, which produce more than ten tonnes per acre.
Bananas are the world’s most exported fresh fruit with the volume of $10 billion per year. They are an essential source of income for thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, agrochemical-intensive production along with declining producer prices has given rise to many environmental and social challenges.
As per the FAO, global production of bananas and tropical fruits is projected to grow at 1.8pc per year between 2019 and 2028, after registering 2.3pc per year growth in the previous decade. Under the baseline scenario, production is expected to slightly exceed 255 million tonnes by 2028.