TODAY -

Climate change Banana trees slowly disappearing
Source: The Sangai Express / Laishram Shamungou

Imphal, October 28 2019: With the rapidly changing climatic conditions today, banana trees seem to be slowly disappearing from Manipur.

The change in climate has also led to rapid decrease in banana fruit production as well.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, chairman of Puching village, Tamenglong district, Ramkhonang Gonmei said that the village has a total of 62 households and each household maintain around 50-100 banana trees.

However, nowadays, most of the banana trees are dying, he lamented adding that in the past, the trees produced fruits around 3 times in a year.

But now, the banana trees begin to die around two years after they are planted.

The bananas they produce are also getting smaller and their qualities are also decreasing, he said.



Climate change Banana trees slowly disappearing
Climate change Banana trees slowly disappearing


Ramkhonang also explained that he remembers his village being a rather warm area during his childhood days, but now, the temperature has greatly increased even when compared to the past.

Pastor of Valok village of the district, Meinganbonang Ngaomui said that in Kabui dialect, banana trees are called 'Hao' and added that banana trees were often cultivated for its fruits while the wild banana trees were used for their flowers.

But now, the cultivated banana trees are slowly dying and they are also getting constantly affected by pests, he said.

On the other hand, Manipur University Anthropology Department Professor W Nabakumar said that in the early days, banana trees used to grow or were planted in every household and banana leaves used to be an indispensable items for every household.

Pointing out that different banana trees used to be planted for fruits and leaves separately, the Professor added that with the changing times and the increase in population, all these changed as well.

As the stem of the plant is relished by the people of the State in eromba dish, other herbs and plants which usually accompany the stem in the dish, were also planted in every household thus ensuring vast bio-diversity in the past, he added.

Horticulture Department Deputy Director K Devdutta said that the rapidly changing climatic conditions and the resulting drastic change in the monsoon pattern has led to decreased production of many plants which require large amount of water, including banana trees.

He said that the State is also witnessing a decrease in production of pineapples as well, at the rate of around 20-30 percent compared to the past.

A mature banana tree requires about 16-25 litres of water a day.

If there is scarcity of water, then there will be great negative impacts.

This will be more pronounced in banana trees growing in the hill areas, he explained.

On the other hand, Associate Professor of Biotechnology Department, Mizoram University, Robert Thangjam said that as per his observation, the State has currently around 35 different species of bananas and the rapid change in climate has led to increase in number of pests and diseases afflicting the bananas as well as decreasing production.

He further explained that as most of the cultivated bananas are produced through vegetative reproduction, the genetic variance is also low and they are also easily susceptible to pests and diseases.

To protect the genetic stock of the bananas in the State, steps must be taken up to conserve the wild banana species as well, he informed.

A rare banana species called Musha Chisamni also grows at Tamenglong, said, Professor Robert, who is also a member of Banana Consortium NE, India.

ICAR Lamphel Research Scholar Rupert Anand said that as per his investigation, there are many cases of banana stick virus infection among the banana trees growing in the State.

The increasing temperature is also a reason for new and dangerous diseases appearing as well, he explained.

Directorate of Environment and Climate Change Deputy Director and State Climate Change Cell Nodal Officer Dr T Brajakumar said that according to a report of the Natural Climate Change Journal, a study of bananas was conducted across 27 countries from 1961 to 2016 and it was found that the banana production of 10 countries, including India, has reduced by around 1.37 tonne per hectare.

Presence of water source and temperature ranging from 26-30 degree Celsius are necessary for good production of banana fruits, he explained.

Written under the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change State Level Climate Change Media Fellowship .


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