Islamabad-A first-ever plant tissue cultural laboratory was set up at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIIOU) to promote the growth of a banana plant in the country.

It was formally inaugurated here on Tuesday by the Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui. It was established with the financial support of the Higher Education Commission. The university has won this research project last year.

It was the part of the University’s consistent efforts to enhance its role in the country’s socio-economic development through research-based academic support. The University has published fourteen research journals in the last three years that meant to address the society’s related issues. The number of research journals will come to seventeen by the end of this year, he added.

The lab is the multiplication of Disease Free Banana Plants developed through Tissue Culture Technology”. According to Dr Sabir Hussain Shah of Department of Agricultural Sciences, in Pakistan, there are two main problems for the banana industry. First is the attack of banana bunchy top virus that destroys the whole crop, and second is the low yield.

The banana’s production is only 4-5 tons/hectare, while in other countries of the world its production is 30-35 tons/hectare. It is hoped that the Lab will help to tackle the problems.

The university’s department of agriculture sciences is also engaged to multiply the plants of a Chinese imported variety W-11 through Tissue Culture Technology. Three Chinese varieties W-11, B-10 and Pishang were imported by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in 2009 and multiplied these varieties through tissue culture technology. Now the department has taken the suckers of W-11 and multiplied via tissue culture. In the newly established lab, initially around 500 plants were developed while about 1000 more plants will be produced before the end of this year. The department will soon approach the farmers of Sindh province through for distributing these plants to farmers. By establishing the lab, the basic requirements of a tissue culture laboratory have been fulfilled.

However, mass-scale propagation of the banana plants could not be achieved due to a very little capacity of this project. The University has now decided to submit the next project to HEC Technology Development Fund on the multiplication of disease-free banana plants.

Another research-based project about the multiplication of Olive plants through tissue culture technology will be put on display at to “Projects, Start-ups and Career Expo” that is scheduled to take place in the Middle of November. The lab’s inauguration ceremony was also addressed by Dean Sciences Dr Naghama Rashid who spoke about the new initiatives, being taken on instructions of the Vice Chancellor to promote agriculture sciences in the country.