Banana soil health

Technological innovations for the management and improvement of the quality and health of banana soils in Latin America and the Caribbean

Context of the story

Bananas are grown in more than 130 countries in the tropics, and about 90% are produced on small farms and consumed locally. In terms of gross production value, bananas are the fourth most important crop in the developing world after rice, wheat and corn. Despite its importance, research on the relationships and interactions that they present between colonizing microorganisms of the banana rhizosphere and their potential effect on the suppression of soil pathogens, on the quality and health of the soil and on yield is scarce.

The implemented initiative

The main objective of the project was to improve the productivity of banana plantations in Latin America and the Caribbean, through sustainable technological innovations that allow increasing the quality and health of the soil. Among its specific objectives were: to design and validate a diagnostic guide for the quality and health of soils for banana plantations, to provide and establish comprehensive technological alternatives that improve the quality of soils for the recovery and maintenance of productivity of deteriorated banana plantations and to develop research complementary to help the establishment and dissemination of integrated and validated technological alternatives on producer farms.

The technological solution

The project was carried out in two phases, the first one that consisted of the diagnosis of 39 banana farms in the region, which generated more than 25 thousand quantitative and qualitative data from the analyzed farms. It is important to highlight that with this information, a mathematical analysis was carried out for the first time that could combine physical, chemical and microbiological factors to determine the quality of the soils of the farms in question. The second phase of the project consisted in the implementation of the farm management alternatives aimed at solving the problems found in the diagnosis.

The project has had a special impact due to the determination of soil quality and health indicators for organic and conventional farms in the participating countries.


The soil quality and health project has had a series of implications and paradigm shifts in the banana research agenda in the 4 countries where it was implemented. It is important to highlight that there were products that had applications at the regional level and some specific ones at the country level. The lines of research approached in Venezuela allowed the interaction of INIA scientists with the universities of the region such as UCV, UCLA and the University of Sur del Lago. The IDIAP made official as a national policy the use of endophytic fungi for the control of nematodes in the farms of producers in Panama. For the first time, a complete diagnosis of banana farms in Costa Rica was carried out where physical, chemical and, above all, microbiological analyzes were carried out. In addition, it was possible to determine the 17 indicators related to the quality and health of banana soils.

Scientific articles
Scientific articles
Technical Publications
Technical Publications

Participating Organizations

Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) - Costa Rica
CEDAF - República Dominicana
CORBANA - Costa Rica
Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales  (IDIAF) - República Dominicana
 Instituto de Innovación Agropecuaria de Panamá (IDIAP) - Panamá
Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrícolas (INIA) - Venezuela
International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) - Costa Rica

Main donors