92 Launch of the Global Programme on Fusarium Wilt Disease of Banana

Protecting banana production from global threats of Fusarium wilt disease

Organizers

  • FAO Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department / Plant Production and Protection Division
  • Bioversity International
  • International Institute of  Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
  • World Banana Forum
  • Member Countries from regions - Indonesia, Uganda, Costa Rica

Abstract

Banana is an important crop for food security and livelihoods of around 400 million people, and is also an important source of revenue for many developing countries. Its production is currently threatened by a destructive strain of the Fusarium wilt disease fungus, known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4). This fungus, following its gradual expansion in Southeast Asia, recently jumped into the Near East and Mozambique, raising international concerns for its further spread endangering production and livelihoods of smallholders.

Disease prevention and rapid containment are the most effective measures to minimize damage and to prevent major negative socio-economic impacts. Immediate support needs to be provided to the countries that are already affected and multi-sectoral long term policies and planning are needed at global, regional and national levels to prevent further spread. For this purpose, FAO and its partners Bioversity International, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the World Banana Forum (WBF) have developed a global programme to facilitate international collaboration to assist developing countries in their efforts to combat the disease. The programme aims to promote preventive approaches and integrated disease management practices to enhance resilience of banana production systems. To properly respond to this food security threat to millions of producers, this coordinated global programme will be launched.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Hans Dreyer, Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO
  • Fazil Dusunceli, Agricultural Officer, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO
  • Tri Purnajaya, Director, Trade, Commodity, and Intellectual Property - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
  • Mumtaz Kassam, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent representation of the Republic of Uganda
  • H.E. Marco Vinicio Vargas Pereira, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Costa Rica
  • Ann Tutwiler, Director General, Bioversity International (Also speaking on behalf of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture)
  • Pascal Liu, Coordinator, World Banana Forum / FAO

Summary

The event was organized in the form of a panel discussion. First, the global programme on banana Fusarium wilt disease was presented highlighting the importance of banana not only as an important fruit for the international market but also as an important staple food crop particularly in tropical areas. The importance of Fusarium wilt disease was described as a serious threat to banana production emphasizing the difficulties in eradication of the causal fungus due to lack of chemical control options. Following description of the framework of the activities proposed by the programme, an outline of the partnership among FAO, Bioversity International, IITA and World Banana Forum was provided.

Speakers from the participating countries, Republics of Indonesia, Uganda and Costa Rica, presented importance of banana for the agriculture, economy and food security of their respective countries. They commonly referred to Fusarium wilt disease as an important threat to the production of bananas, indicating the need for international collaboration and national capacity building for effective prevention and management of the disease. The speakers summarized the current activities of their institutions in prevention and management of the disease and expressed their willingness to participate in the programme. They also offered to share their experiences in banana production and disease management with other countries.

Interventions on behalf of the Bioversity International and IITA highlighted the role and need of research, biodiversity and integrated approaches for long term management of the disease. Similarly the World Banana Forum also indicated the importance of banana in development of rural communities and international markets as well as pointing out the importance of disease prevention for sustainability of banana production and supply to the international markets.

Banana is an important crop not only for international markets but also for livelihoods of small holders as a staple crop. The Fusarium wilt disease is a serious threat to resilience of banana production systems and international collaboration is essential for its effective prevention and management globally. For prevention of the spread and minimization of the impacts, concerted efforts are needed to support countries in developing regional and national policies, disease surveillance and early warning, risk assessments, contingency planning, containment, prevention, integrated disease management and capacity building.

At the global level, efforts have to be intensified in awareness raising, international collaboration, further research in integrated disease management aspects and developing resistant varieties. In this context, all the panelists supported the global programme presented. Representatives of countries indicated their willingness to be engaged with the programme and to share their experiences with other countries. 

Key outcomes/take away messages

International collaboration and prevention is key for prevention of the disease globally and immediate support is needed for its management in the countries in which disease is already present. The Global Programme on Banana Fusarium Wilt Disease was commended and its launch was supported by all participants.