Scientists Develop Vitamin A Rich Golden Bananas That Can Save the Lives of Thousands of Children in Africa
A remarkable scientific development in Uganda could reduce the condition of vitamin A deficiency in hundreds of children. The discovery and development of a new type of banana by scientists who have named it the golden banana will put an end to rampant disease due to lack of vitamin A. The banana which is rich in vitamin A has been successfully been developed by a team from Queensland University of Technology in Australia, led by Professor James Dale.
The path breaking research and development study has been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal. By 2021, several Ugandan farmers could soon be growing the pro vitamin A banana making it easily available to the population.
1 The largest donor of the project donated $10 million
The largest donor to the program is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has donated $10 million for completion of the project. The groundbreaking experiment involved modification of single banana cells that usually germinate into banana plants after the embryonic phase. It took scientists 12 years of Lab research and field trials in Queensland to perfect the technique till the successful golden banana was developed. The same technique will now be applied by Ugandan scientists to local banana growing so that the provitamin A banana can be developed and grown on local plantations and different banana varieties.
In a statement issued by Professor Dale “What we’ve done is take a gene from a banana that originated in Papua New Guinea and is naturally very high in pro-vitamin A but has small bunches, and inserted it into a Cavendish banana,”.
2 Vitamin A deficiencies kill almost 700,000 children worldwide
The high vitamin A levels in the new Golden bananas is what gives them the distinct orange color rather than the usual white looking banana. The humble banana is one of the most widely eaten fruits and part of staple food in Uganda. It is an excellent source of starch, however, the local plain banana lacks an abundance of micro nutrients and is extremely low in levels of vitamin A and iron.
Vitamin A deficiencies kill almost 700,000 children worldwide and an equal number almost go blind. Vitamin A deficiencies can also cause retarded growth, infertility, poor eyesight and skin disorders. Golden bananas will be like a godsend in such conditions.
3 The cheap form of nutrient rich food will be a miracle for impoverished children in Africa
The introduction of the Golden banana in Ugandan agriculture could well be a great asset to the health concerns of the country. The final recipe of the pro vitamin A rich banana was derived after testing hundreds of banana varities in the country. Professor Dale feels that this is a huge milestone in the ability to provide a nutritional but cheap form of diet to the poorest communities without access to wholesome nutrient rich food in Africa.
Take a look at the development of the Golden banana in the video.