Fusarium wilt TR4: Banana Covid hits plantations across globe
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture; Biotechnology
- Fusarium wilt TR4, a novel fungus strain, has devastated banana plantations across the globe.
- Its new hotspots have been found in India too which is threatening output.
- The strain, Tropical Race 4 (TR4), was first identified in Taiwan.
- It cripples plantations by first attacking the leaves, which turn yellow from their trailing edges before wilting away.
- There is no effective remedy yet.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), TR4 is one of the most destructive of all plant diseases.
- It has infected the most commonly sold variety: Grand Nain (musa acuminata), a curvy yellow fruit.
- Scientists recommend biosecurity measures such as plant quarantine, bio priming to slow its spread.
- In India, hotspots have been found in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
- Inability to contain TR4 could jolt farm incomes and push up banana prices.
- It has already jeopardised the $26 billion global banana trade.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has asked farmers to abandon farms whose plantations have been affected .
- They must grow rice for a year or two before returning to growing bananas. That way the chain gets broken.
Important value additions
- It is a common vascular wilt fungal disease.
- It is caused by Fusarium oxysporum.
- Hosts: Tomato, tobacco, legumes, cucurbits, sweet potatoes and banana
- It is not new.
- It entirely wiped out Gros Michel, the dominant export variety of bananas in 1950s.
- It was in response to this that a new resistant variety, Grand Nain, came up.
- It is a new technique of seed treatment that integrates biological (inoculation of seed with beneficial organism to protect seed) and physiological aspects (seed hydration) of disease control.
- It is used as an alternative method for controlling many seed-borne and soil-borne pathogens.
- India is the world’s largest producer of bananas.
- It is the world’s most globally exported fruit, according to the FAO.
- It is a tropical crop.
Image source (Fusarium Oxysporum): Click here