Cloning glory

With tissue-cultured banana varieties becoming successful, there is no fear of this fruit dying. V Jagannathan meets Dr N Barathi, the man who penned the success story

Dr N BarathiChennai: Banana is big business. "India has around 200 banana varieties and there is no risk of this fruit dying as predicted by some foreign researchers," says Dr N Barathi, CEO, Growmore Bio-Tech.

The Rs 1-crore turnover Growmore Bio-Tech tissue-cultures around 14 banana varieties. "Now we are looking at tissue-culturing the mountain plantain [an exotic banana variety]. Nearly half of our turnover comes from exports," he adds.

A former professor at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Barathi is content with the trend of farmers going in for tissue-cultured plants though the initial cost is slightly higher.

"The investment-to-profit ratio is high when a farmer raises tissue-cultured banana plantation," he says. For an investment of Rs 70,000 per acre, the harvest will fetch the farmer around Rs 2 lakh and in two-and-a-half years a farmer can raise three crops, thereby improving land usage. And the encouraging news is that Growmore Bio-Tech's banana plantlets are finding favour with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu farmers.