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Banana fusarium wilt disease

Fusarium wilt disease has been a major constraint to banana production for more than a century. The disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense and it is one of the most destructive diseases of banana worldwide. Its new race Tropical Race 4 (Foc TR4) has been causing serious losses in Southeast Asia resulting in abandonment of thousands of hectares. It has recently spread to the Middle East, Africa (Mozambique) and South Asia raising concerns that it may spread further.

Key facts

  • Banana is a major source of staple food and revenue in many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Fusarium wilt disease of banana caused by TR4 is among the most destructive diseases of banana.
  • TR4 affects particularly Cavendish bananas, supplying around half of global banana production.
  • Effective eradication is currently not possible. The pathogen remains viable for decades in the soil.
  • Once established in a field, it can cause 100 percent yield loss.
  • Prevention and phytosanitary measures are the most effective ways of controlling the disease.
  • Diversification and better use of available genetic resources are key to building resilience to the disease in the long term.
  • Support is needed for disease management and recovery in affected countries International collaboration and local actions are essential.