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fusarium wilt TR4” devastated Banana plantations across the globe

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    9th Jun, 2020

As the coronavirus disease outbreak rages on, “fusarium wilt TR4”, a novel fungus strain has devastated plantations across the globe. It is now setting up new hotspots and threatening output in India, the world’s largest producer of bananas.

Context

As the coronavirus disease outbreak rages on, “fusarium wilt TR4”, a novel fungus strain has devastated plantations across the globe. It is now setting up new hotspots and threatening output in India, the world’s largest producer of bananas.

About

  • The strain, Tropical Race 4 (TR4), was first identified in Taiwan, and has jumped from Asia to the Middle East and Africa, reaching as far as Latin America.
  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, TR4 is one of the “the most destructive of all plant diseases”. 
  • It is a common vascular wilt fungal disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum.
  • Hosts: Tomato, tobacco, legumes, cucurbits, sweet potatoes and banana
  • It cripples plantations by first attacking the leaves, which turn yellow from their trailing edges before wilting away. There is no effective remedy yet.
  • TR4 has infected the most commonly sold variety: Grand Nain (musa acuminata), a curvy yellow fruit.
  • Fusarium wilt is not new. It entirely wiped out Gros Michel, the dominant export variety of bananas in 1950s. 

Quick facts on Banana

  • A healthy snack, banana is the world’s most globally exported fruit, according to the FAO.
  • India produces 27 million tonnes of bananas annually and grows about 100 named cultivars (varieties).
  • One medium banana (126 gms) provides about 110 calories, 0 gram fat, 1 gram protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams sugar (naturally occurring), 3 grams fiber and 450 mg potassium and trace quantities of vitamin C and B6.
  • Most of India’s bananas are consumed domestically.
  • Equador is the largest exporter of Banana.

Is there any treatment available?

  • There is no effective treatment yet. So, scientists recommend biosecurity measures including “plant quarantine” to slow its spread.
  • The spreading disease has jeopardised the $26 billion global banana trade.
  • Katihar and Purnea in Bihar and Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh are the hotspots in India. In UP, several districts are thought to be affected.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is advocating a set of measures, known as “biopriming”.
    • Biopriming 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. 
  • It has asked farmers whose plantations have been affected to abandon them.
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