©Miguel Dita

FAO in action

Over the years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has addressed the fight against Fusarium Tropical race 4 (TR4) from various areas and through different channels.

2020 International Year of Plant Health

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Hundreds of events are organized around the world to promote the International Year of Plant Health 2020, including the Phytosanitary Day on Pandemic COVID-19, jointly implemented by FAO, the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA) and the Andean Community, where particular emphasis is placed on banana crops.

Food Chain Crisis

FCC-EMPRES for animal health, plant protection and food safety contain the main technical capacities of FAO to address transboundary animal and plant and pests and diseases, including aquatic and forest pests and diseases, food safety and radiation threats, and to support countries in the fight against these threats.

The Food Chain Crisis develops quarterly forecasts at regional and country levels of threats to the food chain affecting food security worldwide. For Fusarium TR4, there is a bulletin with detailed forecasts at the country level.

Plant Production and Protection Division

The Plant Production and Protection Division (AGP) and its team on Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases (AGPMM) leads the efforts in developing and implementing mechanisms to mitigate the potential impact of transboundary plant pests and diseases, including Fusarium Tropical race 4. This involves surveillance of pest populations and environmental conditions, early warning systems (e.g. the Desert Locust Information Service), regional cooperation between concerned countries, environmentally sound pest control systems and crises response.

In 2017 the FAO team and its partners developed a GLOBAL PROGRAMME ON BANANA FUSARIUM WILT DISEASE that focuses on strengthening local technical capacities and supporting the development of science-based technologies and tools through research on biology and epidemiology of the fungus, its detection, surveillance, rapid containment actions, soil health and the development of resistant cultivars. As part of this, trainings are constantly being held in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as reports and manuals on Fusarium TR4 have been developed.

International Plant Protection Convention

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) - whose Secretariat is hosted by FAO - works together to reduce the spread of plant pests and diseases; and protects plant resources from pests without setting up unnecessary barriers to trade and transport. The application of IPPC standards helps protect biodiversity and the environment. The IPPC network comprises the Regional and National Plant Protection Organizations of each of the 184 contracting parties.

In addition to containing the global registry of pests and diseases reported by RPPOs and NPPOs, it regulates and issues guidelines for the proper management of these, including Fusarium Tropical race 4. In 2019 the IPPC convened a workshop in Colombia for agricultural experts from 16 Latin American countries on plant health, including best practices to prevent the spread of Fusarium wilt.

FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

In October 2019 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has launched an emergency project under its Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) "Strengthening regional capacities for surveillance, prevention and management against the possible spread of Fusarium wilt of bananas, caused by Tropical race 4 of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc TR4)" to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean fight the spread of Fusarium wilt, a fungal plant disease that can wipe out the banana crops upon which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. The one-year project emerged in response to the first TR4 outbreak in the Americas, and seeks to support regional coordination with a view to achieving uniform application of phytosanitary measures and improving management and surveillance systems for this pest. In particular, it focuses on the elaboration of a regional Action Plan for the prevention, monitoring and possible response to the Foc R4T, among many other regional and national actions.

FAO has previously and consistently provided technical assistance to affected countries to limit the spread of the disease. This includes policy and technical guidance to assist them in prevention and diagnostics, and in identifying risk pathways.