Crop Biotech Update

Uganda Banana Focus of $7M Grant from USAID

December 2, 2011

As support in battling pests and diseases that attack Matoke banana, a $7.07 million grant was given by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/UGANDA) to Cornell Universitry. The grant will be managed by the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Project (ABSPII) in Cornell until October 2016.

Matoke banana or East African Highland banana is one of Uganda's primary food staples, feeding more than half of the population. Aside from its good nutritional value, it is also a source of income for most Ugandan farmers. However, most Matoke varieties are sterile and do not produce seeds. Thus, biotechnological tools are vital in producing improved varieties in lesser time than in using conventional breeding techniques.

"The project will allow us to focus on developing the resistance of Matoke banana to pests like nematodes and major diseases like Black Sigatoka, fusarium and bacterial wilt," said Frank Shotkoski, Cornell ABSPII director.

For details, contact Linda McCandless of Cornell University at llm3@cornell.edu