DOST-funded group to continue study on Panama Disease

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 Oct)) – A research group will start the second phase of its study on how to combat Fusarium wilt or Panama Disease that has affected around 15,700 hectares of banana plantations in the city.

In an interview, Dr. Reynilo D. Garcia, deputy director of Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (Smaardec) said that the study will cover parts of Bukidnon, Ozamis City in Misamis Occidental, and Region 12.

He said the second phase is the continuation of the four-year study conducted from April 2012 to March 2016 on Cavendish bananas in two-hectare fields in Monkayo and Nabunturan towns in Compostela Valley.

He said the second phase will verify if the tests conducted in small areas can be done in bigger farms.

Sheryl S. Bayang, former research assistant at the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-Pcaard) said that the first phase involved “Adaptability trial for seven GCTCV somaclones against Fusarium wilt”; “Development of Biological Control Strategies against FocTR4”; and “Assessment and Distribution of Fusarium wilt incidence in Mindanao.”

She said the first phase of the study found that GCTCV 218 and 219 from Taiwan Banana Research Institute have resistance to FocTR4 (Fusarium oxyporum cubense Tropical Race 4), the pathogen that causes the Fusarium Wilt.

She said they also tested the effectiveness of using biological control agents and found out that trichoderma and MykoVAM have significant effects in preventing infestation of Fusarium Wilt.

She said they will continue using biological control agents in phase 2 but that the use of chemicals is discouraged to prevent killing the trichoderma and MykoVAM.

“There are companies that use chemicals to combat Fusarium Wilt but there is no single bullet (treatment) yet. Based on our study, when we used the bio-control agents, the Fusarium Wilt cannot affect the bananas both in the nursery and the field experiment,” she added.

Garcia said that Smaardec, a consortium of 23 agencies, state colleges and universities, received some P34 million from DOST-(Pcaard).

On October 6 to 8, banana stakeholders will hold the Banana Congress 2016 at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Lanang Premier dubbed “New Frontiers for Inclusive Economic Growth.”

Philippine Export Confederation 11 president Ferdinand Marañon said that this year’s congress “becomes crucial because of the problems and challenges the banana industry faces such as the widespread damage brought about by the Panama diseases on Cavendish and Lakatan varieties, pest and diseases of other varieties, local and international market dynamics.”

He said there is now an overwhelming concern to push for the passage of the National Banana Industry Development Act which will provide the development framework and implementation mechanisms for the optimum development of the banana industry in the Philippines. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)