Our actions to help members combat Fusarium TR4

A concerted effort of stakeholders of the industry, research institutions, governments and international organizations is required to cope with the spread of Fusarium TR4. A sector-wide action plan includes:

  1. Awareness raising campaigns on the inherent risks of TR4 and dissemination of prevention / quarantine measures wherever Cavendish bananas or other susceptible cultivars are cultivated;
  2. Adoption of appropriate early warning systems based on rapid diagnostic techniques of the disease and risk assessments;
  3. Training programs aiming at improved understanding of the epidemiology of the disease;
  4. The development of control and management practices under field conditions through capacity development; and
  5. The development of alternative banana cultivars that eventually can replace the current Cavendish types.

In the face of this action plan, the TR4 Task Force of the WBF has formulated and operationalised the following objectives:

  • Encourage/ensure a series of prevention strategies to delay or avoid the long distance spread of the disease;
  • Ensure the availability and dissemination of relevant information to WBF partners and, where possible, to other parties concerned with and affected by TR4;
  • Support existing initiatives and link efforts that are focused on the same goal; 
  • Contribute to global collaboration among interested parties and search for funding opportunities.

Controlling the spread of TR4

Currently, TR4 is the strain of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense that most concerns the banana production globally, as its destructive potential is very high. Therefore, strict phytosanitary measures should be put in place in affected areas in order to prevent the fungus from being spread. Meanwhile, researchers are also working towards developing new, disease-resistant banana varieties and management options.

Recommended measures for farms:

  • Ensure all planting material is free of the disease and use tissue culture planting materials. Do not use planting materials from infected sources and without certificate.
  • Put up fences around the farm to prevent uncontrolled entry into the plantations. Keep visitors and workers out of banana fields unless necessary, to avoid introduction of spores. Keep record of visitors.
  • Do not visit infected areas unless extremely necessary. If it is essential, follow strictly sanitation procedures. Disinfect boots while entering and exciting such places and thoroughly clean all clothing. Do not move around the equipment used in infested areas to prevent the spread of infection. The boots worn in affected areas should be left there.
  • Regularly examine your crop for signs of the disease. If you suspect a plant that is infected, a trained authorized expert officer must diagnose and advice on measures.
  • Confirmed outbreaks must be reported immediately to the national plant protection organisation for advice and necessary measures. Due to the similarity between symptoms of Foc TR4 and other strains, it is advisable to treat all Fusarium outbreaks as TR4.
  • Once an infected plant is identified, it should be killed with injection of total herbicide in place under guidance of the authorised expert. Healthy plants surrounding the infected plant should also be killed in the same manner to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Infected areas should be fenced off. Only authorized persons should be allowed to enter in such areas avoiding all unnecessary movement of workers and equipment.
  • Foot and vehicle baths filled with surface sterilants should be installed at entrances and exits to a farm to prevent entry or exit of infested soil.
  • Crop diversification and rotation should be considered for long term sustainability and risk reduction. Also, consider using possible resistant, tolerant or local varieties.