Town Mayor holds forum on banana disease

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DUJALI, Davao del Norte–Seeking to find viable solutions, the local government here convened banana farmers in Davao Region directly affected by Fusarium wilt or Panama disease on Tuesday.

More than a hundred farmers joined the forum, attended by the Department of Agriculture in Region 11 (DA-11) and Roni Manching, a farmer-scientist from Panabo City and the event’s resource speaker.

Mayor Leah Marie Romano urged the farmers to find ways to save the banana industry, noting that it provides bigger income for farmers.

“This forum will give you an idea as to what measures to take in combatting this disease,” Romano said.

Romano also committed to help the affected farmers in terms of fertilizer and technical training to fully understand the fungal disease.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen, a breed of fungus that is attracted to banana plants. It has the ability to live or exist in long time dormancy (30-50 years).

Fusarium fungi block plants vascular system (Phloem) depriving the plant of the necessary minerals, nutrients and moisture, causing it to turn yellow until it dies down.

This municipality has a total of 2, 365 hectares tilled by individual banana farmers, while about 2, 375 hectares is owned by a big banana company.

The Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO) noted that about 50 percent of the banana plantations here were infected by the disease.

Manching said there is still a big hope for the banana industry despite the occurrence of Fusarium wilt.

“Even if you only have 30 percent left in your banana plantation and the 70 percent was totally damaged by Fusarium, you can still earn from it,” he said.

While Fusarium is a persistent disease, Manching said it can be managed by introducing farming practices that rely on the soil’s natural potentials.

He said the acidity of the soil is the main cause why the pathogens become active and that is when Fusarium arises and destroys the plant.

Romano said this town will put up a banana tissue culture laboratory and a village type Trichoderma to support local farmers.

MAO said there are 572 banana farmers in the municipality. -PNA

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