23 January 2017. Leuven, Belgium. Research conducted at the world’s largest collection of banana diversity hosted in Belgium is helping farmers and scientists all over the world to make banana farming more productive, resilient and sustainable. The collection of genetic diversity conserved in the Belgian genebank has celebrated 30 years of service with an event – ’30 years of banana diversity hosted in Belgium’ – attended also by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo.
During the event, attendees learned how banana production is threatened by climate change, pests and diseases and many other factors. Cutting-edge research conducted at the ITC is helping to find ways to respond to these threats. For example, Bioversity International and KU Leuven scientists are looking for drought-tolerant varieties to enhance cultivation in climate change-affected areas. They are also investigating how the spread of Panama disease – a deadly fungal banana disease – can be managed though the use of resistant varieties, and how bananas naturally-rich in vitamin A can fight vitamin A deficiency, which causes half a million children to go blind every year.
“This platform resulted in the training of and scientific research collaboration with more than 100 researchers from 44 countries. For these reasons KU Leuven is proud to host this international banana collection.”
For more information about the ITC:
The partnership between KU Leuven and Bioversity International, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is supported by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Belgian Development Cooperation, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). [Bioversity International Press Release] [KU Leuven Press Release] [Bioversity International Blog Post] [ITC Website]