|The Spread and Impact of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, Tropical Race 4 on Global Banana Production|
A. B. MOLINA (1), A. Viljoen (2), F. Dusunceli (3). (1) Bioversity International, Los Banos, Philippines; (2) Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; (3) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UNited Nations, Rome, Italy
Recent epidemics of Fusarium wilt on Cavendish bananas in Asia recall the destruction caused by Race 1 of the pathogen, <i>Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense</i> (<i>Foc), </i>to Gros Michel in Central America in the 1950s. <i>Foc</i> strain VCG1213/16, known as tropical race 4 (TR4), first destroyed Cavendish plantations in Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia in late 1900s. It has since affected more than 40000 ha in southern China and 8000 ha in the Philippines, and was recently found in the Middle East (Jordan, Oman) and Africa (Mozambique). Epidemics are primarily associated with monoculture Cavendish production. Occurences in small-scale diversified farming systems are often less severe. Research in Asia, by Bioversity International and regional partners, has yielded promising prospects to mitigate the disease, including use of inoculum-reducing practices and use of resistant Cavendish somaclones from Taiwan. Raising awareness on the spread and potential impact of the disease is crucial. The recent continental leap of <i>Foc</i>TR4 underscores the vulnerability of global banana production, including the Cavendish export industry in Latin America and large-scale monoculture production in India and Brazil. A Consortium was established to prevent the fungus in Mozambique from further spreading in Africa, where bananas are consumed as a staple food. A global FAO-led initiative was set up to prevent the further spread of <i>Foc</i> TR4 and reduce its impact on global banana production.