Hope for the Banana

“Pity the banana. Despite its unmistakably phallic appearance, it hasn’t had sex for thousands of years,” wrote Fred Pearce in his 2008 feature story about declining genetic diversity among bananas (“The Sterile Banana,” Fall 2008). As it turns out, some people are, in fact, now taking pity on the faltering fruit. This past February, The Hindu reported that the National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB) in Tamil Nadu, India, is working to rejuvenate two endangered native banana varieties. Many bananas in the Tamil Nadu region have fallen victim to pests and bunchy top virus, which often prevents fruit production and requires destruction of the plant. According to The Hindu, the NRCB aims to develop tissue cultures for the endangered bananas, distribute seedlings and growing kits to farmers, and educate farmers about propagation and biodiversity conservation. ❧

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