Enthused by the successful efforts of a farmer from Bharamasagara of Chitradurga in cultivating the exotic Nanjangud rasabale, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore (UAS) has decided to closely monitor his next crop. They want to see whether Bharamasagara can be developed as an alternative area for cultivation of this almost-extinct variety of banana, which is exclusive to areas in and around Nanjangud of Mysore district.
According to scientists at the UAS, they will monitor the crop for the next two years to check for various aspects, including incidence of fungal disease and quality of fruits, before exploring the possibility of developing Bharamasagara as an alternative area.
Nanjangud rasabale, which has been given the Geographical Indication tag, has been almost devastated by fisarium wilt, a fungal disease. So severe has this disease been that it has reduced the cultivation of the crop to about 10 acres of land.
To revive this variety, the UAS took up a programme to collect disease-free plant material and multiply them through tissue culture. About 12,000 such plants were distributed to interested farmers last year, along with a package of scientific practices for controlling the fungal disease. Of them, Bharamasagara farmer Shantaveerappa had grown a bumper crop from 1,000 plants and registered a profit of about Rs. 5.2 lakh.
A high-level team of UAS scientists visited Mr. Shantaveerappa’s farm in Bharamasagara on August 8 to assess the situation and explore the possibility of developing Bharamasagara as an alternative cultivation area.
B.N. Sathyanarayana, head of the UAS, Bangalore, Horticulture Department and Plant Tissue Culture Lab, says: “Despite this variety being a Geographical Indication crop, we are examining the possibility of developing Bharamasagara as an alternative site for its cultivation, mainly because it is difficult to grow this variety in Nanjangud due to high infestation of fisarium wilt in the region. The environmental conditions in Bharamasagara appears to be similar to Nanjangud and the fruits grown here have excellent quality and comprise all the original traits such as taste, aroma and lump-free material. The intention is to ensure availability of such exotic varieties of bananas and preventing their extinction.”
T.H. Ashok, head of the university’s Department of Plant Biotechnology, notes with caution that some of the plants being cultivated by Mr. Shantaveerappa have been infested by the fisarium wilt.
In this context, he felt the university would adopt a long-term approach and monitor the crop condition before taking a call on developing this as an alternative site for cultivation.
T. Narendrappa, head of the Department of Plant Pathology, pointed out that about one-fifth of the crop had contracted fungal disease. “But it is possible to control the spread of this disease through the scientific package of practices. We will give training to interested farmers on the methods of controlling this disease,” he says.