Promoting banana mass propagation in Luzon through tissue culture technique

Tissue culture is done to ensure that new banana planting materials are free from pests and diseases. The banana plants produced from tissue culture are true to type and can have uniform superior clones of different varieties available. 

Led by Dr. Lavernee S. Gueco of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) implemented a project titled, Support to mass production of Cardaba and Lakatan cultivars for quality planting material through mass propagation technique and/or protocol in Luzon. 

The tissue culture (TC) technology aimed to increase the production of good quality planting materials of banana (Cardaba and Lakatan) in the Philippines. However, the tissue culture laboratories in Luzon could not cope with the demands of TC bananas. The project was able to produce TC seedlings from the tissue culture laboratory (TCL) of the Institute of Plant Breeding. 

Another strategy is to produce the tissue-cultured meriplants in the laboratories in Mindanao and transport the meriplants after the growing media have been removed, and packed in carton boxes covered with plastic. This will be transported to  Luzon via air cargo and will be picked up at the airport to be brought to target regions. The meriplant will then be potted out in plastic bags and taken care of in the nursery for two to three months prior to field establishment. 

The training on nursery establishment and management of TC-derived planting materials for different DA regional field office was conducted before the arrival of TC plantlets. Dr. Gueco underscored that this kind of seed system has been proven effective and sustainable which is currently being practiced by some nursery owners in Davao. 

To increase the production of quality planting materials through the utilization of mass propagation techniques and protocols, four activities were implemented to meet the objectives of the project. 

For the first activity, a total of 11,520 TC banana seedlings were produced in the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding TC Laboratories. These were composed of Lakatan and Saba/Cardaba cultivars collected from the field genebank of the institute. 

For the second activity, a total of 85,990 rooted meriplants, consisting of Cardaba and Lakatan, were received from tissue culture laboratories in Mindanao. Out of these, 71,405 plantlets were distributed to DA-Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON, and other areas under the urban gardening program of the Department of Agriculture. 

For the third activity, capacity building activities through training and workshops were held in all of the partner regions specifically in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora, and Laguna. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the University of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (UPLBFI) through the Institute of Plant Breeding-College of Agriculture and Food Science (IPB-CAFS) and DA-Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon to establish the responsibilities and roles of each party for the collaboration. 

Lastly, for the fourth activity, three Information, Education, and Communication Materials were developed, which were about Banana Bunchy Top Virus, nursery management of tissue culture banana seedlings, and Banana field establishment and management. (### Lea Calmada)