I am proud and privileged
From the Director's Desk
I am proud and privileged to take charge as the Director of ICAR-National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), a premier R&D institution exclusively dedicated to all aspects of banana improvement, production, protection, postharvest value addition and HRD. In the three decades after its establishment, ICAR-NRCB has made enormous contributions to the growth of banana industry and associated enterprises in India and grown into a nationally and internationally recognized organization. ICAR recognized the commendable research excellence of ICAR-NRCB recently by awarding the prestigious Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award 2020 in the category of small Iinstitutes. The Centre has made significant progress in all spheres of its mandated activities. The Centre developed new climate resilient varieties and drought mitigation methods have been introduced to enhance fruit yield and orchard profitability besides improving cropping intensity in low rainfall regions. Production technologies for increasing field productivity such as high-density planting, fertigation, nutrient management, bunch spraying, clump management and bunch sleeving have been worked out across different agro ecosystems in India. NRCB’s micronutrient mixture, Banana Shakthi, has made a huge impact on the productivity of banana farmers. Traditional varieties are also exported to Europe andthe Middle East following a sea shipment protocol developed at NRCB. NRCB’s virus indexing and genetic fidelity testing services using indigenously developed diagnostic kits and markers have revolutionized the tissue culture industry and made quality banana planting material affordable to banana growers. More than 295 million tissue culture plants have been certified till date by NRCB leading to a remarkable productivity increase in planting materials.
The production of value-added products from banana such as banana fibre-based products, fruit bars, figs, powder, and puree has attracted stakeholders and NRCB has been actively involved in developing entrepreneurship in banana-based enterprises and has an Agribusiness Incubation Unit for training and handholding new ventures. NRCB has active collaborations with international and national organizations including CGIAR/IITA, Bioversity International, PMFME-ABI, NABARD, ICAR and state agricultural units in diverse areas including the development of biofortified transgenic bananas, AI and IOT enabled precision farming technologies using multi-institutional, interdisciplinary approach. It has linkages with IARI, ISRO, IASRI and Alliance Bioversity - CIAT and online training and trading platforms for banana farmers and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO).
In the coming years, ICAR-NRCB aims to increase the per capita availability of banana from 60 to 100 g with enhanced nutritional qualities by 2030 by focusing on our core research strengths in all frontiers such as the evaluation of innovative breeding strategies for agronomic and genetic biofortification. In order to mitigate the impact of abrupt climate issues affecting banana cultivation, an interdisciplinary research networking initiative has been conceptualized to strengthen activities in organic crop production, carbon farming for efficient use of bioresources and precision farming using IoT / AI-based sensors. Pan-Indian Front-Line Demonstrations (FLDs) to popularize our products and kits such as Banana Shakthi and LFIA detection kits are on the anvil. Comprehensive strategies are needed for fast-tracking efforts for mapping Fusarium wilt affected areas and developing an Integrated Disease Management package (IDM) for banana. Collaborative works have been planned with banana-based FPOs, and SHGs in 24 banana growing districts identified across the country under ODOP program to enable the dissemination of Post-Harvest technologies and the producibility of value-added products.
The Centre has been implementing e-governance and E-Office systems for ensuring speedy and responsive administration. The centre has been an institution of choice for students from various universities and attracts a lot of young talent for pursuing research projects, both short and long term, which is proving to be highly productive. We will continue to work together to solve the pressing challenges we face today in banana farming. As we move forward to transform this vision into reality, I welcome you to join us on this exciting journey.