Guam Department of Agriculture in Partnership with UOG Receives USDA Grant

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Guam – A USDA specialty crop grant worth $183,112 has been awarded to the Guam Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the University of Guam, for propagating and making available to the public disease-resistant banana plants.

Many backyard farmers and commercial banana growers have to deal with diseases and pests of bananas in order to get any fruit production; there are banana varieties that are naturally resistant to many of these. The plan is to obtain disease-free plants of these varieties and then propagate them in tissue culture to make them available to the public. Growers can then obtain and plant these banana varieties to help them have fewer disease problems.

Dr. George Wall and his staff at the Plant Pathology Laboratory, in the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center will provide disease-free, tissue-cultured banana stock to the Department of Agriculture. They will also provide tissue culture training to GDA personnel to clone the disease-free stock ensuring purity and plant health.

The advantages to planting in vitro propagated plants are many:

* Since they are disease and insect free they will grow faster and more vigorously than suckers taken from the field
* All tissue-cultured plants are guaranteed to be of a particular variety
* They can be ordered in advance and available in large numbers at one time.

These tissue-cultured plants will benefit growers through higher yields and retailers and consumers by a wider selection and an opportunity to buy local produce and enjoy fresher, tastier and more nutritious bananas.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for WPTRC researchers to support farmers and take part in making fresh, locally grown fruit available,” says Greg Wiecko, WPTRC associate director.

The University of Guam and Guam Department of Agriculture continue their longstanding tradition of working together for the benefit of Guam’s farmers and consumers.