A four-part virtual workshop series on “Safeguarding the Banana Industry from Fusarium Wilt: Research Updates and Opportunities in Asia Pacific” held on October 20, October 27, November 3, and November 10 via Zoom, organized by the International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GDAAS), Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS), and the Alliance of Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

The workshop was officiated by Dato Haji Zainal Azman bin Abu Seman, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Malaysia and Chairperson of the TFNet Board of Trustees.

Twenty presentations were given throughout the series across 4 sessions: Country reports on background and updates on Foc TR4 prevalence, containment measures and research initiatives; Biodiversity, evolution and interaction mechanism between pathogen and host; Breeding initiatives for resistance against Foc TR4; and Integrated control measures and sustainable field management practices.

The number of attendees per session averaged at about 70 participants, including researchers, scientists, growers, and the private sector from 16 countries: Australia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, USA, & Vietnam. Participants from international organizations such as the CABI, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Banana Forum, ProMusa, and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture also attended.

Fusarium oxysporium f.sp. cubense Tropical Race 4 (Foc TR4) is a fungal disease that attacks Cavendish bananas, the variety that is most exported and widely consumed around the world. For more than two decades, the disease has severely reduced yields and productivity of bananas in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, and Australia. Recently, the disease has spread to Mozambique and Colombia. Foc TR4 threatens the entire banana industry which has a global trade value of USD 31 billion in 2020, while impacting the livelihoods of rural banana producers.

Despite efforts aplenty in the last decade, the nature and persistent spread of the Foc TR4 calls for the intensification of pragmatic research efforts. This virtual workshop aimed for researchers across the Asia Pacific region to share information on current research and technologies in mitigating the impact and spread of banana fusarium wilt. Country representatives also shared their experiences on the control and management of the disease. As an outcome of the deliberations from this workshop, a report is being prepared to encourage future regional cooperation among partners and countries.

The presentations are also available online this Youtube playlist: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKxiDl17HlWtwZ1uWrhvEGs9qiC_gqSGZ

Embedded playlist (click the icon on the upper right to view all the videos in the playlist):


To view the full program, click here.

*Photo of Fusarium oxysporum spores courtesy of Yuri/Fun with microbiology

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