MARDI works to protect diversity of fruit crops – The Star

Efforts are underway to revive our low number of fruit cultivars.

Visit any night market, fruit shop or supermarket and chances are you will find very few varieties of bananas being sold. For a crop that has been cultivated since ancient times in Malaysia (reputedly its place of origin), the lack of choice is surprising. A myriad of local species used to be available, but not anymore. A random check at two hypermarkets revealed only two choices: the imported Cavendish and the local pisang berangan.

The future scenario appears bleak for our local banana cultivars, which are not only up against foreign competition – in the form of the hardy and unblemished Cavendish – but also against other more profitable and productive crops. The problem is not just confined to bananas. Other fruits like pineapples and mangoes, too, suffer from dwindling varieties.

As farmers focus on growing only the best breeds for maximum yield, the challenge lies in the hands of the Malaysian Agricultural Research And Development Institute (Mardi) to stimulate research and conservation work to sustain diversity of these crops, and to ensure that a wealth of genetic resources exist for breeding quality and high-performing varieties. Continue reading “MARDI works to protect diversity of fruit crops – The Star”