Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Plantain cultivation in Columbia

Columbia produces 10% of the world supply of plantain. Half of the production is in the coffee zone where it is grown in association with coffee. However, plantain is considered a secondary crop and little has been done to increase its production. This research is directed to increasing production through a study of the ecophysiological, agronomic and parasitic factors associated with the combined cultivation of coffee and plantain.

A multifactorial diagnostic investigation was conducted to target the most appropriate direction of research. This included: a general questionnaire; identification of 165 sample sites with different types of soil, climate and cultivation systems; an analysis of soil samples, leaves and nematode counts; and a statistical analysis of the data. The study identified the following limiting factors: lack of technical aids to cultivation and motivation of farmers; varying chemical characteristics of the soil and climatic gradients which affect plant nutrition; and the presence of soil borne parasites. The most important potential threats to future production are the risk of spread of Black Leaf Streak disease and of the nematode Radopholus similis. The incidence of Sigatoka disease, the banana weevil and other nematodes is variable and should probably be taken into account in certain locations identified during the investigation.

A comprehensive investigation of the Cercosporioses was made. Work undertaken in the laboratory included characterization and behaviour of Sigatoka and Black Leaf Streak diseases. Field work included: evaluation of the time scales for incubation and for the evolution of lesions; speed of evolution of the disease; incidence of the disease in crops; and techniques of chemical and cultural control. Simplified meteorological observation stations were established at 6 different situations. The first observations reveal a very great variability in the behaviour of Black Leaf Streak disease linked to climatic factors. There was evidence of a different response of the two types to low temperatures. A very great variability was noted in the behaviour of Sigatoka disease as a function of altitude and the time of year. Experiments are under way at 6 sites to quantify the incidence of disease (Sigatoka and Black Leaf Streak) in different ecological zones. Different integrated systems of combating diseases were tried combining the application of fungicides with cultural practices such as leaf thinning.

21 new varieties of plantain have been introduced and some are already in the field. In order to accelerate the establishment of experimental plots and to minimise the risk of plant losses, each of the types introduced has been multiplied in vitro in sufficient numbers to be tested at 6 to 8 different sites in the coffee zone.

The investigation has led to identification of the principal limiting factors on the production of plantains. This has enabled immediate solutions to be proposed which can be adapted to local conditions. It has also enabled targeting of main lines of research which are pertinent to the real problems encountered. The results obtained on Cercosporioses are extremely useful in view of the more and more worrying nature of the situation linked to the spread of Black Leaf Streak disease and the widening of the varietal range which is under way will help minimise the phytosanitary risks.

Reported by

Centre de Cooperation International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement
BP 5035
34032 Montpellier Cedex 1
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