So far, At least 116 plantain cultivars have been identified in the West and Central Africa. Meanwhile the plant size and bunch type are the most important characteristics for production purposes.
The plant size depends on the number of leaves produced before flowering as giant produces more than 38 foliage leaves; medium between 32 and 38 foliage leaves; small fewer than 32 foliage leaves.
For field cultivation, medium plantains should be preferred to giant ones even though giant plantains produce heavier bunches. Giant plantains take longer to produce and are more likely to be damaged by strong winds because of their size.
The decision whether to grow a French or a False Horn plantain cultivar should depend on which type the consumers prefer. Horn plantains should never be cultivated as their yield is very low.
Meanwhile, knowledge of plant development in plantains is needed to manage seasonal variation in production and better match critical development phases with appropriate seasons. Plantains have juvenile, mid-vegetative and floral phases leading up to flowering (bunch emergence).
Read Also: Introduction and Morphology of Plantain
On the other hand, Banana (Musa spp.) is a plant of great socio-economic and socio-cultural importance, of the Musa genus, belonging to the Musaceae family. It is mainly grown for its fruit in humid tropical regions worldwide.
In those regions, plantain plays a vital role in food security and rural development. Indeed, for 600 million people, banana is the main source of daily energy, while for another 400 million people; banana is an important food supplement. Banana ranks fourth in human food after rice, wheat and corn.
Bananas and plantains grown are generally triploid and tetraploid, stemming from interspecific hybridization of two wild species which are: Musa balbisiana (BB) and Musa acuminata (AA).
They are sold on local markets, plantain is now-a-days considered as a way of revenue diversification and increase, due to external markets that are developing.
In Cote d’Ivoire, plantain ranks third in terms of food crop yield, with just over 1.6 million tons6 in 2013. This yield level is still low and does not meet the national and sub regional increasing demand. Indeed, plantain tree is usually produced in crop combination systems either with other food crops or with perennial crops, etc.
Its production in pure culture is rare, as is the case everywhere in Africa. In addition to this, banana like any other crop is facing many diseases and pests including sigatoka, fusarium wilt, bacterial blight, virus diseases, damage caused by weevils and attacks due to nematodes.
These constraints significantly threaten the crop by reducing the yield per hectare. Among them, the black and yellow sigatoka, serious foliar diseases caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis Morelet and Mycosphaerella musicola, affect all cultivation areas and are considered to be one of the major constraints for banana production.
In Cote d’Ivoire, Black Sigatoka (MRN) caused by the ascomycete fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis Morelet appears as the main foliar disease of bananas. It is the most damaging by its virulence and its impact on a wide range of cultivars.
It attacks leaves and causes the deterioration of the leaf surface and the decrease of photosynthetic capacities resulting in reduced growth and productivity of plants with early ripening of bananas. Yield losses are estimated between 20 and 50% and may reach 100% as from the second crop cycle.
Read Also: Methods of Harvesting of Plantain Bunches
The fight against this disease is essential to ensure economic exploitation of banana. It is based on the almost exclusive use of synthetic fungicides, sprayed regularly, at a rate varying with the type of fungicide and conditions of its application. Although efficient, the use of synthetic fungicides is polluting, unsustainable (development of resistance) and inaccessible to smallholders.
Thus, the use of resistant varieties (usually hybrids stemming from the genetic improvement of bananas) is considered as the most appropriate and sustainable means of control. However, these hybrids yield fruits whose qualities do not meet the requirements of consumer. Given this situation, it is appropriate to direct research towards other means of control.