The Global Alliance for Cooperation to Fight Fusarium R4T, made up of public, private and academic sectors, will reinforce in 2022 preventive actions in the face of the threat posed by the Fusarium R4T fungus to banana plantations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This was announced by Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)one of the members of this alliance formed in 2021, which indicated that among the priorities for 2022 is advancing scientific research and consolidating a communication strategy aimed at producers and consumers.
“We continue to strive to advance our agenda. Today is a crucial moment in which we must make decisions and for that we have a proposal for programs and projects, which include the research effort to achieve a banana that mitigates the effects of Fusarium and a broad communication strategy that involves the entire banana chain”said the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero.
He affirmed that it is necessary to further strengthen the alliance to save bananas, since this fruit “it is among the top ten foods in the world”.
“Food safety is at stake and, of course, the fate of producers and consumers”Otero warned.
The R4T strain can destroy banana plantations, it is transmitted through the soil and there is currently no treatment to eradicate it. The only solution to stop its spread is to burn down entire banana plantations, which then cannot be grown again.
This fungus, which is native to Asia, hhas been detected in Latin America in some areas of Colombia and Peruwhich has generated concern in the region.
The coalition against the fungus aims to contain the advance of what is considered “banana pandemic” and, in the medium and long term, research and develop genetic improvement solutions.
“In different research institutions, much progress has been made in gene editing, in order to achieve a banana resistant to the disease, but we know that this task could take five to seven years. That is why today, agronomic management is essential so that the pest does not spread”explained IICA’s representative in Paraguay, Gabriel Rodríguez, who serves as secretary of the Alliance’s Executive Committee.
IICA is the secretariat of the alliance, whose executive committee is also made up of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Costa Rican National Banana Corporation (CORBANA), the companies Bayer and Chiquita Brands International, the Solidarity Network and the Wageningen University, the Netherlands.