Banana research centre to be set up in Vaishali, Bihar. Foundation stone laid

The Union government has gifted Bihar a banana research centre that will be constructed at a cost of Rs 16 crore at Goraul in Vaishali and help revive cultivation of the fruit, which was once an important cash crop for state farmers.

It will function under Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University (RPCAU) at Pusa in Samastipur.

The proposed centre, the second such in the country after the National Research Centre for Banana at Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, will focus on the reasons for less production of banana, and will work on expansion of its cultivation, plant protection, suitable utilisation of various parts of it such as pulp and fibre, processing, marketing, and value addition.

“Banana is an important cash crop in Bihar and is extensively grown in Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Purnea, Bhagalpur, Madhepura, Katihar, Darbhanga and several other districts. However, its cultivation and production has suffered over the past few decades.”

A banana research station was established in 1954 at Hariharpur, Vaishali, considered the epicentre of banana cultivation in the state. However, it became virtually defunct and no specific research was carried out at the institution.

Banana is grown on over 27,000 hectares in the state and annual production of the fruit comes to around 5.5 lakh tonnes with an average productivity of 20 tonnes per hectare, which is less in comparison to the national average of 34.1 tonnes per hectare.

Maharashtra is the largest banana producing state in India with productivity of 65.7 tonnes per hectare. Overall the banana production in the country stands at 142 lakh tonnes per year.

Singh said Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the banana research centre on March 11 during a short visit to Goraul, which was selected for the research centre keeping in mind the ecological conditions of the place.

“Banana production and productivity in Bihar declined because of various reasons such unscientific cultivation, lack of proper irrigation, non-cultivation of other crops at regular interval of two to three years, impact of weather and climate change. Lack of availability of good plants is also one of the reasons,” Krishna said.

Scientists working at RPCAU said the research centre will also focus on making products and cloth from fibre extracted from banana stem and manufacturing of paper from the pulp of the plant.

“Fine fibre extracted from banana plant sells at Rs 250 per kg and cloth manufactured from it has high global demand. It is one of the fibres of future. Government officials in the Philippines have to compulsorily wear banana fibre clothes once a week,” one of the scientists said.

The research centre will also conserve traditional banana varieties that are becoming extinct, as it is necessary to keep the fruit’s genetic diversity intact for development of further varieties in future. The centre will also distribute 10,000 saplings to farmers in June to launch its initiative to increase productivity in the state.

Source: The Telegraph

 

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