Dr Jorge Sandoval Fernández

Dr Jorge Sandoval Fernández

The research director of the Costa Rican banana producers’ association, Corbana, Dr Jorge Sandoval Fernández, has been appointed president of Musalac, the Plantain and Banana Research and Development Network for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A ceremony marking the appointment, which will see Sandoval hold the position until 2011, took place in Merida, Venezuela, following a meeting of the research network.

Sandoval said: “Costa Rica is one of the few examples worldwide of banana producers investing their own money in research. These research efforts have been strengthened through strategic partnerships with other renowned research institutes around the world.”

Under Sandoval’s leadership, Musalac will focus on reviewing and defining the research priorities for the region and strengthening research synergies among members. The Latin American and Caribbean research network will also promote the circulation of findings from scientific research and will focus on research to reduce the use of pesticides in banana farming.

Sandoval completed his PhD in Sciences and Techniques at the University of Montpellier II and carried out his doctoral research at the Plant Biotechnology Laboratory of Cirad, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development. He also undertook a research internship at the Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Seibersdorf, Austria.

Sandoval pointed out the extensive work on banana research in the country has contributed to achieving one of the world’s highest productivity levels per hectare in Costa Rica for 19 years.

He said: “This performance has a lot to do with Corbana’s research endeavours and all our efforts to strengthen the links between research centres and pursue the objective of increasing productivity.”

Corbana recently launched two new adjoined research facilities, the Biological Control Centre and the Banana Molecular Biology Centre. These centres, which represent an investment of more than $1 million (£615,000) from funds donated by banana producers themselves, have been created to research ways to reduce the use of pesticides and promote the biological control of pests in banana production. Corbana also contributes to an international research partnership to reduce the use of pesticides in banana farming by 50 per cent in 10 years, led by the Plant Research International of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.