Tamil Nadu farmers were in search of a substitute for the local Karpuravalli, which belongs to the Pisang Awak subgroup of the genomic group ABB because of its high susceptibility to leaf spot diseases and nematodes. Despite the consumers’ preference both in the rural and urban markets, marketing of Karpuravalli was a failure mainly because of the poor yield. This led to the birth of Udhayam, which is a single plant selection made at NRCB, Trichy. Prior to release, this variety was evaluated under varied agroclimatic conditions and the results revealed that it performed well not only in Tamil Nadu but also in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Tripura. It produced a sustained yield even under saline-sodic soils. Though it produced an average yield of 37 kgs, it has the potential to yield upto 45 kgs, which is 15-30% higher than local Karpuravalli. It exhibited field tolerance to nematodes and other leaf spot diseases. The cylindrical shape of the bunch makes this variety amenable for long distance transport with enhanced shelf life.
Udhayam was also tested in two of farmers’ fields at Trichy namely Mr.Dharmaraj of Koppu village and Mr. Ammaiah Raj of Malliyampathu village. Their positive feedback and interactions with the fellow farmers during variety release meeting increased the demand among the farmers for the newly released variety Udhayam. Overwhelmed by their performance and yield in particular, two progressive farmers. Mr.S.Tamilarasu of Uppiliayapuram, Trichy District, Tamil Nadu and Mr.S.Sundaram of Thirukkattupalli, Tanjore District, Tamil Nadu procured tissue culture plants of Udhayam. They wanted to check their yield stability by cultivating them in a small scale. They adopted the advanced package of practices recommended by the Institute with minor modifications. Nutrient management was done in an excellent manner taking care of both soil and foliar applications to tap its yield potential fully. Their enthusiasm on banana cultivation has led to the identification of superior clones with 22-24 hands yielding about 50-60 kgs and fetching a market price of Rs. 800-1000/- per bunch.