FAO, TFNet, BAPNET hold side event on Banana Fusarium Wilt TR4 in Rome

The banana wilt disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporium cubense (Foc) Tropical race 4, is a major problem for growers in mainly Asian countries. The disease, which affects mainly the Cavendish variety, was first observed in Taiwan in the 60’s, before spreading to farms in Indonesia, Malaysia, North Australia, China and the Philippines. FOC TR4 has recently surfaced in Oman, Jordan and Mozambique and there are now concerns of it spreading to the Latin American countries, which are global players in the banana trade. Besides the Cavendish cultivar, the disease also severely affects other banana cultivars grown by smallholders for consumption and income generation. There have also been efforts by affected countries to manage the disease by controlling and mitigating the effects of the disease to prevent its spread. What is imperative is a platform for producing countries to discuss and formulate ways to contain this dreaded banana disease.


International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), together with FAO and support by experts from the Banana Asia Pacific Network (BAPNET ) held a side event during the 70th Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems at the Iran Room, FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy on 7 October 2014. The theme of the side event was ‘Mitigating and Adaptation Measures for the Control of Banana Fusarium Wilt TR4, including the successful development of Resistant Cultivars’.



The purpose of this side event was to:

  1. Share with delegates on the current global status of the disease, including countries affected, research and development work and the various mitigation action by countries involved, to combat the spread of this disease
  2. To impart to delegates the proposed holistic approaches, that are needed to manage existing affected countries and specific actions required to prevent spread of the disease to unaffected countries.
  3. To initiate discussion among stakeholders and formulate a strategy at the international, regional and national level in areas including prioritize research, appropriate policies and quarantine regulations, capacity development and suitable technologies.


The side event was attended by some country delegates from the CCP meeting, members from other networks, private companies and FAO personnel. Following a welcome address by Mr. David Hallam, Director of the Trade and Markets Division of FAO, TFNet’s Yacob Ahmad give a brief note on the capabilities of TFNet in addressing this issue through its network of partners and experts.


The session continued with presentations by experts from the Banana Asia Pacific Network. Dr. Agustin Mollina, Bioversity International Philippines presented ‘the current status of Foc TR4 epidemic and mitigation R & D in Asia and relevant future R & D’, while Bob Williams from the Northern Territories, Australia Department of Plant Industry presented on ‘Holistic approaches to overcome the threat of banana wilt disease caused by Foc TR4’. The event continued with Fazil Dusunceli of AGP, FAO presenting on ‘Global programme on prevention of Fusarium wilt disease of banana, while Dr. Yi Ganjun, Vice President of the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Science, China presented on ‘Recent development on Foc TR4 control using resistant cultivars and cultural techniques in China’.



Some of the points raised during the ensuing discussion were:

  1. That the initiative to mitigate and manage the disease be pragmatic, focussed and not over ambitious
  2. Current practices involving protocols and control of spread of livestock and poultry diseases can be used as examples when formulating strategies to combat and control banana fusarium wilt disease.
  3. Whether the strain of fusarium oxysporium cubense, causal agent of the disease detected in Africa is similar to the one in Asia and whether control measures would be based on the Asian experience.
  4. Whether there has been a study or analysis on the risk component specifically its threat to the industry in Latin America.


The meeting agreed that stakeholders will have to discuss and contribute to the details of the concept note into a more cogent initiative.


This initiative will also be discussed in a technical consultative workshop in December and in a meeting to be organised back to back with FAO’s Intergovernmental group on banana and tropical fruits session (IGG) in the Dominican Republic in May 2015.



1. Fusarium Wilt : Occurrence, impact, R&D and  mitigation measures in Asia Pacific

Agustin B. Molina, Bioversity International

2. Holistic approaches to overcome the threat of banana wilt disease caused by FOC TR4

Bob Williams, Department of Primary & Fisheries, Northern Territory, Australia

3. Global Programme on Fusarium Wilt Disease of Banana

Fazil Dusunceli, FAO

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