Banana

Philippines: 1,000 ha of Mindanao banana farms ruined by Panama disease

DATE 29/11/2011

Philippines: 1,000 ha of Mindanao banana farms ruined

Panama disease, or Fusarium Wilt, has not been seen in the Philippines banana crop for about a half a century, however, banana growers in the provinces of Davao de Norte, Bukidnon and Compostela Valley have seen it return and are seeking help.

Fusarium Wilt is caused by the fungus/mold, Fusarium oysporum f. sp. cubense , race 4, which is the most devastating disease for bananas. The fungus is found in the soil and attacks the roots of banana plants. It must be controlled by containment.

It is known to wipe out whole banana plantations and if not contained, it can spread to other plantations.

Just as disastrous, if not more, Fusarium Wilt can render the plantation or farm area unfit for banana cultivation for even up to 20 years unless the spores of the fungi that cling to the soil can be properly eliminated.

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) are urging the government to fast track the creation of a proposed National Research Development and Extension Centre for Bananas. The centre would focus on research into pests, diseases and other pathological factors that affect the industry.

Gov’t measures to stop ‘Panama disease’ branded as ‘exercise in futility’. At least 1,000 hectares of banana farms in Southern Mindanao have been destroyed so far by Fusarium, a disease with no known cure that organic farming advocates said was aggravated by the practice of monocropping in the region. The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said Fusarium, also known as Panama disease, had devastated more than 1,000 ha of banana farms as of yesterday.

Madeline Dizon-Marfori, PBGEA chair, said the problem threatens the survival of at least 300,000 families, who are dependent on the banana industry, which could be Mindanao’s top export revenue earner. In her family’s company for example, Marfori said some people have lost their jobs after about 40 ha of banana farms that showed signs of the disease have been shut down.

She said the infected areas have no chance of recovering soon as the fungus that causes the disease is known to thrive in soil for at least five years. It was given the name Panama, after the Central American country where the disease wiped out entire banana plantations and brought the country’s economy to its knees. “The Panama disease is the most serious challenge currently facing the banana industry,” Marfori said.

Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

Publication date: 11/23/2011



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