Mardi launches new technologies for better banana, chilli production

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by BERNAMA

THE Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) has developed the Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) and TrichoSHIELD technologies to improve the volume of local banana and chilli production, and cultivation.

The ISR addresses the banana blood disease and increases trees’ resistance to pests, while TrichoSHIELD, which is a bio-fungicide, has the capability to control the anthracnose fungal disease in chilli crops.

Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (picture) said these technologies will be commercialised through third parties in the next six months.

“Banana is a popular fruit crop in Malaysia with an area of up to 30,684ha and generating 345,850 metric yields.

“However, the country’s banana industry was threatened by a disease in 2007 called the banana blood disease or the bacterial wilt disease,” he said at the launch of the ISR and TrichoSHIELD in Putrajaya yesterday.

Ronald said the disease, which has been gazetted as a dangerous disease under the Plant Quarantine Act 1976, has paralysed the country’s banana cultivation with up to 65% yield lost and increased the volume of imported fruit.

Between 2007 and 2018, the volume of imported bananas surged from RM300,000 to RM180 million due to insufficient domestic supply.

“This resistance can be induced by inoculating the ISR at the base of the trees.

“The disease-controlled technique has been tested on hotspots in farms and has successfully reduced the infected banana trees up to 92%,” Ronald said.

Meanwhile, TrichoSHIELD is a local Trichoderma-based biofungicide specifically developed for the control of anthrax disease in organic and conventional chilli plants formulated in the form of talc powder.

“This technology is applied by the foliar spray which can reduce the transmission of anthracnose disease in the field up to 88% and help increase the yield by 54%.

“Both products are not only environmentally friendly but could improve the safety and quality of agricultural and agrofood products,” said Ronald.

He added that the self-sufficiency level for chilli currently stands at 40%, while the new development in agricultural cultivation is hoped to increase the dependency on local production.

The average domestic demand for chillies stood at 55,420 tonnes a year in 2018, while the domestic production was only at 24,428 tonnes, resulting in local suppliers seeking external sources for more than 30,000 tonnes.