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Friday, December 9, 2011

DOST-‘Panama disease’ affecting Banana plantations can be managed

The dreaded banana disease (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense) which is presently affecting hectares of banana plantations in Mindanao (and the subject talked about by the media with Dr. Patricio S. Faylon recently at his office in PCAARRD) can be managed according to experts from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Dr. Patricio S. Faylon, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) said that the dialogues with the stakeholders and careful studies on banana in the country revealed positive results in curbing the menace brought about by Fusarium wilt, more popularly known as Panama disease.

Early detection and eradication of Fusarium wilt is one of the most direct steps recommended by the group. It was suggested that plant that have been attacked by the disease should be immediately uprooted and burned together with the soil plant to it. This is the basic method of arresting the spread of infected plant and soil.

Since Fusarium is a fungus that thrives on soul and burning of the soil may destroy the fungus on the topsoil but not beneath it, the use of microorganisms such as the Trichoderma may prove beneficial to counter the effect of the disease-causing fungus.

For continuous monitoring of possible spread of the disease, Faylon said that farmers will be trained to recognize symptoms early. “A protocol for management of the disease should also be shared as widely as possible”, Faylon added.

For long term solutions, the Cavendish variety called GCTCV 119 which is the Fusarium-resistant variety has been considered for replanting, said the science department.

Biodiversity International through Lapanday Foods Corporation in Davao City will provide 1,000 planting materials through tissue culture to be distributed to the members of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA).

The mother plants for the tissue culture will come from the National Germplasm Collection housed at the Bureau of Plant Industry – Davao National Crops Research and Development Center (BPI-DNCRDC). Bioversity International and DOST-PCAARRD will develop the protocol for crop management with the latter leading the monitoring and evaluation.

Partners will also be piloting fertilization methods including the use of organic fertilizer. (Information was from Aristotle P. Carandang of S&T Media Service. Ester Z. Gallardo, PSciJourn Mega Manila

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