Fusarium wilt TR4: Banana Covid hits plantations across globe

  • IASbaba
  • June 5, 2020
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Fusarium wilt TR4: Banana Covid hits plantations across globe

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Agriculture; Biotechnology

In News:

  • 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.

Key takeaways 

  • 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 

Fusarium wilt

  • 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. 

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Image source (Fusarium Oxysporum): Click here

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