About 20 agricultural officials from eight districts of Kerala underwent a six-day training on Improved Production and Post Harvest Technologies in Banana at the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) here recently.

The training, sponsored by the State Horticulture Mission, Kerala, was intended to educate and impart training to the field officers on improved production, protection technologies to enhance productivity and profitability of small banana growers. The officials were from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Palakkad and Wyanad.

While banana, including nendran (plantain), was the most important fruit crop grown in about 59,000 hectares in Kerala, productivity was very low at just 8 tonnes a hectare, said M.M.Mustafa, Director, NRCB, in a press release. The training was aimed at improving the production technologies so as to increasing productivity and to educate banana growers on advanced technologies developed and adopted by the NRCB.

Dr.Mustafa gave the trainees an overview of the research achievements of the NRCB and the national and international research and development in banana.

The trainees were exposed, through lectures and demonstrations by the scientists of the NRCB, to important cultivars suitable for different agro-climatic conditions, importance of using tissue culture planting materials, selection of tissue culture plants, soil and nutrient management, drip and fertigation techniques and integrated pest and disease management. Hands-on training was also provided on various aspects including use of healthy planting materials, high density planting and other techniques. They were also taken on field visits to progressive banana growers in and around Tiruchi.

The trainees were distributed certificates by N.Ponnusamy, Joint Director of Agriculture, during the valediction of the training programme at the NRCB on Saturday. Dr.Mustafa, V.Kumar, Course Director, and other scientists were present.