NIHORT evaluates IITA plantain hybrids for possible distribution to farmers
Following a call for stronger collaboration and partnership, the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) has embarked on the evaluation of hybrid plantain and banana germplasm from IITA and its partners, for possible distribution to farmers.
IITA Regional Breeding Manager for plantain/banana improvement in West and Central Africa, Delphine Amah, during an earlier visit to NIHORT, made the call for closer ties between IITA and the national institute, which has the mandate to work on banana and plantain in Nigeria.
In a recent interview, Amah recalled, “In the past, there really was not much collaboration between IITA and NIHORT on banana and plantain, but in recent years we have tried to bring that collaboration to life.”
In response to that call, Plant Breeder and former Head of NIHORT Genetic Resources Unit, Dr Dorcas Olubunmi Ibitoye, followed up with a request for germplasm for test purposes with the understanding that successful evaluations may lead to the distribution of said germplasm to farmers/end users. IITA eventually delivered 35 varieties to NIHORT comprising plantain, dessert and cooking banana hybrids originating from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and the Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA).
After a more recent visit, Amah expressed delight with the level of progress made and the professionalism and seriousness the NIHORT team exhibited as they had gone ahead to plant the materials and begin the evaluation process immediately after receiving the materials. She described how, despite the adverse weather conditions and budgetary constraints, they had shown strong commitment by planting and taking the extra step of installing an irrigation system to supply water to the farm.
In a paper, Promising High-Yielding Tetraploid Plantain-Bred Hybrids in West Africa, published in the International Journal of Agronomy, the authors noted: “Despite the economic importance of plantains in the humid lowlands of West and Central Africa, the sustainable production is threatened by pathogens and pests, posing a risk to household income generation and food security.”
The NIHORT team will maintain the high-yielding disease-resistant plantain and banana hybrids with the aim of multiplication and evaluation with farmers. Farmers are always requesting improved varieties from IITA and NIHORT and the expectation is that this evaluation will deliver some productive results for them.