Philippines allocates US$2.3mn to fight Panama disease

Eating through hectares of banana crops, Panama disease has affected southern Philippines the most. (Image source: Fernando Stankuns/Flickr)

The Philippines has announced it will provide US$2.3mn funds to address disease damaging the country’s banana industry

According to the Philippines’ department of agriculture, the funds will be used for the early detection of Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease, which damages bananas and has affected the Philippines’ banana export industry.

Fazil Dusunceli, plant pathologist at FAO, said, “The spread of Fusarium wilt banana disease could have a significant impact on growers, traders and families who depend on the banana industry. Countries need to act now if we are to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is massive destruction of much of the world’s banana crop.

“Fusarium wilt is a lethal fungal disease caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum. The fungus enters the plant through the roots and colonises the xylem vessels thereby blocking the flow of water and nutrients. Once established in a field, the fungus persists in soil for an indefinite period of time and cannot be managed using chemical pesticides. Fusarium wilt is the first disease of bananas to have spread globally.”

In 2014, the FAO urged countries to step up the action they were taking towards fighting the spread of the Panama disease.