Banana association’s Bob Moore dies

The founder of the International Banana Association, Bob Moore, died Jan. 17 at a hospital in Sanford, Fla., according to the Times Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. He was 86.

Moore founded the IBA in 1983 and was its president and chief operating officer until he retired in 1999. The trade group was based in Washington, D.C.

Moore earned law degrees from the University of Virginia and New York University. Before entering the produce industry, he worked as a special assistant to the Louisiana attorney general and maintained a private law practice.

In 1957 Moore joined the Standard Fruit and Steamship Co. He ultimately served as general counsel and secretary of the company. Food producer Castle & Cooke Inc. bought Standard Fruit in 1968, keeping Moore on as general counsel and senior executive president.

Researchers develop more nutrious fruit

Field trials are under way with bananas bred to have up to 15 times the amount of vitamin A found in regular bananas.

The project is under the direction of professor James Dale of the Queensland University of Technology and is funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation initially gave almost $5 million to the three-year project in 2009. When the Gates visited the university in December 2011, they learned the enriched bananas are being grown in field tests in Uganda by the National Agricultural Research Organization.

Another banana project being funded by the Gates Foundation is working to develop disease resistant bananas. That research team has already generated lady finger bananas that are nearly immune to fusarium wilt race 1, which is common in all banana growing regions, according to Dale.

Australia helps Uganda battle wilt

About 20% of the world’s banana output comes from east Africa, where banana bacterial wilt is again threatening the crop, which could place higher demands on other producing regions, according to the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

The disease is a particular problem in Uganda, where an outbreak in 2001 caused a loss of $200 million in U.S. dollars, according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Ongoing problems in Uganda’s banana producing regions recently spurred the Australian ambassador to east Africa, Geoff Tooth, to reaffirm Australia’s commitment to help the African nation, according to the Australian press. Tooth said he wanted to see Uganda replicate Australia’s successful experiences in dealing with agricultural diseases.