A group of North Queensland banana growers have visited Israeli agricultural biotechnology company Rahan Meristem in its home country to explore the opportunities to develop its disease-resistant varieties in Australia, reports The Land.
Rahan Meristem is looking to trial tissue cultured banana varieties in Australia as well as collaborate on disease resistant varieties to tackle the challenge of Panama Tropical Race 4 disease that has been detected at banana plantations in Queensland.
Rahan Meristem’s scientific director Eli Khayat told growers that the company is seeking to establish two trial fields in Australia’s major growing areas, testing tissue cultures in the hope that the material would be useful to the local industry.
“Every year we take the best 20 per cent of the population and we propagate only these in the laboratory, then we select the best 2-3 per cent of clones,’’ Khayat said. “In the selection, we focus on quality and the appearance of plants, including uniformity, but most important is the genetic constitution of plants. We try to remove off-types.’’
Rahan Meristem is one of the leading exporters of tissue cultured bananas, working to develop disease-resistant varieties across the Philippines and Latin American.
The visit to Israel was part of a tour hosted by Haifa Australia and Lindsay Rural.