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India’s Agri-researchers pioneer AI use to boost banana production

Dr. R. Selvarajan, Director of Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Research Centre for Banana showing the guests the different banana varieties

On the occasion of its foundation day and Kisan Mela celebrations held this week, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Research Centre for Banana unveiled its new vision on use of Artificial Intelligence in banana production and marketing technologies.

Located in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, NRCB is the recipient of the Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award in 2020 and its objective is to increase the production and productivity of banana and plantains through mission mode basic and strategic research approaches.

Addressing a large gathering on the occasion, Dr. R Selvarajan, NRCB Director said that the institution which conducts global research on bananas, maintains Asia’s largest gene bank for the fruit. He went on to highlight that in the past year, it has developed 60 technologies, introduced six new banana varieties, published more than 1,000 research articles, and exported bananas to various countries, including Italy and Europe.

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A scene during the celebrations of NRCB Foundation Day and Kisan Mela

Going beyond this, the Centre is also actively engaged in frontline demonstrations in different areas like Karnataka and Kerala and it recently notably acquired two patents for AI-based disease detection and suspension of Basil seeds.

He said NRCB has been working on gene editing to combat fusarium wilt which is a viral disease affecting bananas. Dr. Selvarajan added that reaching out to the stakeholders, NRCB organized 146 capacity-building programmes, benefiting over 7,000 farmers, entrepreneurs, and students. It also introduced a new technology called Kavery Microbial Consortium to the farming community.

Dr. V. Palanimuthu, Director of the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Management, Thanjavur talked about the interest shown by entrepreneurs from Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu in banana marketing. He stressed the need for adhering to good agricultural practices in banana cultivation and implementing controlled atmospheric storage facilities for banana exports while also discussing emerging technologies like automated irrigation systems and agricultural drones.

Dr. V. Venkatasubramanian, Director of ICAR-Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Bengaluru, emphasizing the importance of quantity, quality, continuity, and cost-effectiveness in agricultural production, said use of ICAR-NRCB technology has facilitated banana cultivation in Lakshadweep.

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The award winners along with the guests during the event

During the event 14 different awards were presented, including Best Banana Farmers, Best Farmer Producer Organizations, Best Technology Dissemination, Best Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Best Entrepreneurs, and Best Technical Staff. Three farmers who adopted NRCB technologies, shared their success story with the audience.

Dr. C. Karpagam, Principal Scientist at ICAR-NRCB, delivered the welcome address, and Dr. M. Mayilvaganan, Principal Scientist at ICAR-NRCB, Tiruchirappalli, conveyed the vote of thanks.

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