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Incubation centre likely to come up at NRCB

An incubation centre is likely to be established at the ICAR-National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) in Tiruchi to foster entrepreneurs in banana industry, its Director S.Uma said here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 26th Foundation Day and Kisan Mela at the NRCB, Dr.Uma said that a proposal on establishing an incubation centre was in advanced stage of sanction process. “The centre is likely soon, possibly next year,” she said. The NRCB has got a building ready to house the centre, which would hand-hold budding entrepreneurs in the sector.

Tracing the growth of the banana industry in the country, she said the area of cultivation in the country has doubled from four lakh hectares in 1993 to eight lakh hectares in 2018. Production has increased three times over the period aided by various technologies, many of which were developed by NRCB.

Emphasising the need for using disease-free quality tissue culture planting material to increase production, she said the NRCB has certified about 275 million out of the 295 banana plantlets used in the country over the past four years. This was one of the significant achievements of the research centre.

Virologists of the NRCB have developed a farmer-friendly dip stick, a strip which would cost just about ₹40, for spot detection of viruses in banana tree. The strip can test the juice extracted from the tree and show the results immediately. The dip stick would be commercialised shortly.

The NRCB was moving towards developing next generation tissue culture using which tissue culture plantlets can be mass produced and sold at just ₹3 apiece. The centre was in process of developing the liquid form of its Banana Sakthi, a popular micro nutrient mixture, developed by NRCB among banana growers, which can be mixed with water and sprayed on trees.

Dr.Uma said the centre has recently released three new varieties – Kaveri Kalki, a dwarf ‘karpooravali’ variety which could withstand strong winds, Kaveri Sugantham, a fragrant variety, and Kaveri Saba, a drought resistant variety.

The NRCB has developed various technologies for producing value-added products from banana and reduce post harvest losses. “Using technologies developed by us, all parts of a banana tree can be used and there will be zero waste,” she said and urged farmers to use technologies developed by the centre. She suggested that farmers organise themselves into farmers producers group to tap the opportunities in the sector.
Collector S. Sivarasu presenting the best farmer award to S. Rajesh of Thottiam near Tiruchi on Wednesday.
T.V.Manjunatha, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Chennai, underlined the importance of conserving soil health and water. He urged farmers to dictate market conditions rather be guided by it and suggested creation of cold storages at the taluk level so that farmers could store their produce, study the market and stagger their supply to get better returns. He also called drew the attention of the farmers to their responsibility towards protecting forests.

Collector S.Sivarasu distributed the best farmer and best entrepreneur awards given by the NRCB. The Hindu was presented with Best Technology Disseminator Award on the occasion.

Earlier, G.Ajeethan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Federation, while emphasising the importance of farmers using pack houses to reduce post harvest losses, said that the State government was setting up about half a dozen primary processing centres for banana in Tiruchi district. Calling upon farmers to utilise the facilities, he said that the centres can help farmers to extend the shelf life of banana by about a week.

Puliyur A.Nagarajan, president, Tamil Nadu Horticulture Producer Association, citing the recent steep fall in the price nendran variety banana, called upon NRCB to take up studies for improving marketing avenues for banana.

An exhibition of banana products and a technical session on government schemes and other aspects of banana cultivation were also held as part of the event.

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