In the Genetic resource center (GRC) of IITA, several varieties of plantain/banana are conserved both on the field and invitro for future research work and food security in perpetuity.
The need for genetic conservation of plantain/banana lies in its importance as staple food crop rich in high calories, potassium, and vitamins A & C, also as a source of vitamin B-complex.
In the field bank, there is an international collection of Musa (banana and plantain) which is maintained in perpetuity. As with other clonally propagated crops, a part of the collection is duplicated and stored in the in vitro bank. There are about 400 distinct accessions in the Musa field collection. Plantain/Banana belongs to Musa sp and a family of Musaceae.Generally, Musa plants are known to thrive best in regions where there is an even distribution of rainfall during the year or where irrigation can be easily made available. Year after year, these accessions are maintained in the field. Before the old plants die out, young suckers sprout at the base and these replace them when they die out. Part of the maintenance culture is to maintain a minimal number of these suckers per accession. With constant weeding, manure application, proper alignment of accessions in rows and other field operations, a good field map of the Musa field is maintained in IITA GRC field bank.
The field is closely monitored for signs of disease and pests which are promptly reported for necessary actions. Phenotypic data is also collected in the field in collaboration with the Musa breeding Unit.
Also in other to safeguard Musa (plantain/banana) collection from unexpected disasters like erosion, pest invading and to reduce cost of maintenance of field bank, the collections are safe-duplicated in in-vitro as plant tissue culture. This is vegetative propagation of the Musa sp on an artificial substrate which sustained them for a longer period of life span within a minimal space for conservation.