While floriculture is catching up across the State a sunrise industry, ornamental bananas may soon emerge as a new crop ensuring the farmers a steady income.
An on-farm trial carried out by Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Sadanandapuram, has proved it as a promising and under-explored area in the cut flower industry.
“Apart from landscaping purposes, they can be used to make impressive bouquets and other floral arrangements. It’s for the first time an on-farm trial is being conducted in Kerala and if the market is receptive, ornamental bananas can create a new boom in the floriculture industry,” says Dr.V. Saroj Kumar, assistant professor, Horticulture, KVK, who led the team.
During the trial, the research team had opted for three hybrid ornamental bananas developed by National Research Centre for Banana (NRC-B), Trichy, that include OxR, OxZ and RxZ. A total of 10 trials were carried out starting from the second week of June, 2022, and early flowering was observed in OxR within 70-75 days of planting. The hybrid OxR is quite eye-catching with its vibrant flowers and is best suited as a patio or garden plant. Ornamental bananas are unique in their appearance due to brightly colored bracts and red blotches on upper surface.
“While ornamental bananas produce very small fruits that are not edible, the bright colour bracts and attractive foliage can be a best alternative for cut roses in creative floral designs and bouquet making, says A.H. Shamsiya assistant professor, Community Science, KVK.
According to experts, the crop is suitable for tropical climate and can be cultivated in many parts of the State.
“It can be grown as intercrop in shady places and on land which is not ideal for other crops. It also requires minimal care and has generally few pests and diseases. Propagation using suckers and emergence of flowers all year round with minimal influence of season are other factors that add to their potential as economic ornamental crops,” says Dr.M. Lekha, assistant professor, Entomology, KVK.
In the second phase of the trial the KVK team will train the farmers on cultivation and post-harvest handling that includes value-addition and marketing. “It’s a project in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat, an attempt to prompt indigenous varieties for economic growth,” says Dr.Bini Sam, professor and head, KVK.