Trials of Formosana 218 continue in Ecuador as 4,620 plants have been imported for study in 2022. It is a variety tolerant to the Fusarium 4 race that is being evaluated by the National Institute for Agricultural Research (Iniap) in the provinces of Los Ríos and Santa Elena, and whose final results are expected in 2025, but preliminary results are already attracting the attention of the plague-prone countries in the region.

The banana variety produced and exported in Ecuador is the Cavendish, which arrived in the country in the 1960s after the disappearance of the Gros Michel variety due to Fusarium race 1. However, the Cavendish variety is currently threatened by Fusarium. race 4, putting the country’s other major non-oil and mining export at risk. In the first half of 2023 alone, Ecuador generated 1,990 million dollars from the export of bananas and bananas to its various destinations, with a growth of 17% in value and 8% in volume.

Banana sector: Ecuador is already issuing permits to start the controlled commercial distribution of the variety resistant to Fusarium race 4

Meanwhile, the trials that have been going on for a year in Los Rios and nine months in Santa Elena are attracting the interest of international organizations. This is the case of technicians from the Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation (Agrosavia) who arrived in Santa Elena this week to check the progress of Formosana 218.

Colombia was the first country in the region where Fusarium race 4 was detected in 2019; Then, in 2021, it was discovered in Peru, where a second outbreak this year also occurred. Venezuela also confirmed the presence of the pest in early 2023. Meanwhile, the Agency for Phyto and Zoosanitary Regulation and Control (Agrocalidad) stated that the fungus is not in the territory of Ecuador.

Agrosavija technicians visited this Monday and Tuesday the plantations where Formosana 218 is evaluated in the province of Santa Elena and observed the condition of this variety. Also, Agrocalidad showed for the first time this variety that arrived in Ecuador from South Africa, but which was originally developed in Taiwan and was widely distributed in countries affected by Fusarium race 4.

According to a specialized magazine Banana export, By 2022, there were more than 10,000 hectares of Formosana 218 in production planted in the Philippines, Mozambique and Taiwan.

According to the publication, Formosana 218 is the only variety that has already been tested in three important aspects:

New outbreak of Fusarium race 4 in Peru revives fight between producers and exporters in Ecuador, now due to lack of funds for biosecurity measures

Although information on the progress of assessments is confidential, it is known from the private sector that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) has issued temporary permits with certain restrictions on the number of plants, close to a million plants in 350 hectares with a selection process for elite plants, in order to start a temporary and controlled commercial distribution of that variety.

In addition, Iniap is looking for new banana varieties that show disease resistance or tolerance with the support of international cooperation and the Fund for Research in Agrobiodiversity, Seeds and Sustainable Agriculture (Fiasa).