The consortium coordinated by IPBO (VIB-UGent) includes three Belgian Universities (ULiège, KU Leuven, and Ghent University), Kenyatta University (Kenya), the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda, and ICIA (Instituto Canaria de Investigaciones Agrarias).
The rationale of this project lies in the fact that today Banana (Musa spp.) is an important crop providing staple food for more than 400 million people on the planet. It is an important source of income for many small and medium-scale producers that needs only limited inputs to ensure a harvest. However, harvest yield is still far below its potential for many smallholder farmers. In Africa, a high diversity of highland, plantain, and dessert bananas is cultivated and the production is mainly aimed at local markets.
In contrast, banana production and import in Europe are limited to only a few varieties. Belgium hosts the world banana collection and has a long history of scientific research and partnerships with European and African scientists. The CLISMABAN project aims to exploit the existing genetic resources and diversity of bananas to select with input from all actors of the banana value chain (consumers, farmers, processors…) the varieties that will be resilient to the constraints that are threatening production because of climate change.
To address the increasing demand for food, this project will investigate the potential of some microorganisms to be beneficial for the soil and the productivity of the banana plant. The project will combine top-notch phenotyping technologies to identify the varieties from the collection that fit the established “cahier des charges” and to test the potential benefits of microorganisms on the growth of the banana plant. The laboratory obtained results will be brought to the field in different agro-ecological zones of Kenya, Uganda, and Canary Islands for evaluation.
Producers and researchers will be trained in different aspects of the banana research to market pipeline to stimulate a better utilization of scientific results in the development of agricultural systems that will meet both the increasing demand for food and the requirement for sustainable use of land and water that can challenge the climatic evolutions.
This inception meeting was the chance for all partners to meet for the first time although there already precedent bilateral collaborations in research or capacity building. It was the perfect occasion for all concerned partners to plan and coordinate their respective work within the CLISMABAN project.