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Fusarium Wilt harms Banana

Areas of small banana farms infected with Fusarium Wilt increasing in Davao Region

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here voiced concern over the worsening problem on Fusarium Wilt infestation as an increase in the areas affected in the Davao Region has been reported.

Virgilio Gutierrez, science research specialist of the DA-11 and the focal person on Fusarium Wilt management, said the spread of the disease to other areas could worsen especially during the rainy season which come by June.

“We are apprehensive when the wet season sits in by mid of this year,” he said.

According to Gutierrez, the disease is soil borne and its transmission is fast when there is heavy rain and flooding.

The DA has infused P102.1 million funds for the region to address the disease for the years 2015 to 2016.

The budget, Gutierrez said, is divided by province of which P34.2 million is allocated for Davao del Norte; P15.4 million for Compostela Valley; P5.1 million for Davao del Sur; and P1.3 million for Davao Oriental. He said Davao City is allocated some P5.1 million separately by DA.

The funds will be used for intervention activities such as eradication of the disease, crop shifting, provision of GCTCV-219 (a Philippine selection of a Giant Cavendish Tissue-Culture Variant from the Taiwan Banana Research Institute), good agricultural practices (GAP), production of information, education and communication materials, and others.

Based on their geotagging in 2013, it was learned that some 701,000 mats (mother plant and suckers) were infected with the disease spread out in the different provinces of the region.

Gutierrez said they have introduced eradication of the disease to areas where infestation is below five percent that they considered manageable to treat. But if above five percent of the area is infected they recommend crop shifting to cacao, coffee or corn because these are more resilient to the disease.

He said their 2015 report on the areas affected with the disease around the region accounted for 15,500 hectares.

“We fear that the number would increase given that owners of some small banana farms won’t allow assessment of the area on the presence of the disease. And with the onset of the rainy season there is no stopping of the spread to other areas,” he said.

The farmers found it expensive to eradicate the infected mats because burning of one mat would need 30 bags of rice hulls plus the other structures that is needed in the process of burning.

The DA would only pay the farmer P500 per mat for eradicating the infested crop, Gutierrez said.

For hard-to-reach areas, DA has yet to check on the extent of infestation.

He said the disease resistant variety is one appropriate intervention and they already released 45,000 of the GCTCV 219 variety.

He said it is also best that farmers adopt good agricultural practices if only to minimize the spread of the disease. (PNA)

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