Friday, 25 November 2016

My banana leaves are too small: ACIAR at the International Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture

ACIAR was proud to be part of the International Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture in Cairns, North Queensland from 21-25 November. The Symposia brought together Australian and international horticulturalists to share research results on topics as diverse as plantation and beverage crops, plant breeding and genomics, protected cultivation as well as poverty and hidden hunger.  High value horticultural produce is a key element in facilitating sustainable livelihood options for smallholders.

ACIAR's display at the conference showcased current research in tropical fruits, including bogia coconut syndrome, bacterial crown rot highly destructive to papaya and panama disease; which are lethal to bananas along with integrated pest and disease strategies for cocoa and mango crops.  Our horticulture scientific research contributes to improved incoming opportunities, the advancement of women and linking farmers to markets.

Joy Hardman, ACIAR's Horticulture Crops Cluster Support Officer, reflects on the Symposia:

I’m here in Cairns at the Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture.  ACIAR’s innovative display is enacting the slogan “research to hit the target”.  We’ve set up a ball to aim at targets and have ACIAR Partners magazine bunting used to open and close the side-show.  It’s a bit like the game “balloon-bust” with the targets being cutouts of tropical fruit, mangoes, papaya, banana, cocoa and coconut: some disease ridden. The fruit cut outs were attached to trees drawn with charcoal. Mangoes, papaya and bananas are big business in Australia.  For cocoa, at least the bean-to-bar processing, is an expanding Australian small business.  

ACIAR's Horticulture Cluster Support Officer, Joy Hardman opens ACIAR's display booth for business.
The Symposia is a mid-size gathering of passionate horticulturists, motivated by science research in our food which sustains and in the green urban environment which provides mental rejuvenation. Australian benefit research inspiring enthusiasm, passion and sweat include: sequencing the mango genome; sweetpotato virus indexing; documenting every food plant on the plant.   

I am here with ACIAR Philippines project partners.  ACIAR Horticulture’s program has five fruit based research partnership discovering new knowledge of benefit to both countries.  Research of mutual benefit – it’s a shared space, which addresses each nations own interest, whilst benefiting from the others experience. Research which at a macro scale aims to address the shockingly low fruit and vegetable intake in the Philippines, aspiring to produce disease free fruit without poisoning the customer by excessive pesticide use. The Philippines government is backing the effort through its"Oh My Gulay" campaign.

ACIAR's Philippine project partners next to the fruit they are researching.
In Australia the projects work with the Banana Growers Council, Mango Industry Association, and state Dept’s of Agriculture. We share pests and diseases so we need to share the research effort.
Back to my heading.  Fusarium wilt is not just a threat to the banana industry. It currently cannot be eradicated. Growers (and governments) have to find ways to manage its spread. 
For our display; I’ve drawn the trees, the fruits are attached.  Oh dear! Now that the drawing is vertical, I notice “My banana leaves are too small!”  Oh well, I’ve brought the charcoal. I’ll just add a few more leaves! 

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