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Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 48: Incremental benefits of genetically modified bananas in Uganda
Bananas (Musa spp) are the fourth most important food crop in the world, following rice, wheat and maize. They are grown in more than 150 countries, producing approximately 138.4 million tonnes of banana every year (FAOSTAT, 2010). Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where banana provides more than a quarter of the required dietary energy for over 100 million people, produces approximately 33 per cent of the global banana output. The East African region (including Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi) is the major banana-producing and-consuming region in SSA. Uganda alone produces roughly 10.2 million tonnes (FAOSTAT, 2010) as the world's second producer after India, with the highest per capita consumption of cooking banana in the world (Clarke, 2003). Banana production in Uganda is, however, limited by several productivity constraints such as pests, diseases, soil depletion and poor agronomic practices. To address those constraints, the country has invested significant resources in research and development and other publicly funded programmes, pursuing approaches over both the short and long term. Uganda formally initiated its short-term approach in the early 1990s, involving the collection of both local and foreign germplasm for the evaluation and selection of cultivars tolerant to productivity constraints. The long-term approach, launched in 1995, includes breeding for resistance to the productivity constraints using conventional breeding methods and genetic modification. Genetic modification projects in Uganda target the most popular and infertile cultivars that cannot be improved through conventional breeding.
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