DA bares disease-resistant banana seedlings in Davao
(The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) unit in Davao is distributing seedlings of a new banana cultivar that is resistant to the destructive Fusarium Wilt disease.

Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease, is a vascular wilt disease caused by fungal infection that enters the plant’s water conducting vessels through the roots. Wilting and discoloration occurs as the infections spreads to the stems and leaves. It attacks banana plants of all ages and spreads mainly through the soil.

Banana growers in Davao have long suffered from production losses due to the disease that remains in the soil for years. Various interventions have been implemented, including the use of biofertilizers and establishment of early detection systems.

Plant breeders of DA Region XI have developed the Giant Cavendish variety GCTCV 219, a cultivar that is sweeter than the more popular Grande Naine variety which has significantly higher starch levels that turn into sugars during ripening.

The cultivar also has greater acceptability in the international market, promising greater returns for farmers.

Dr. Susan Razo, chief of DA Region XI Integrated Laboratories Division, is encouraging banana growers in the region – particularly those belonging to established cooperatives – to submit the necessary documents to acquire the tissue-cultured seedlings.

After submitting the documents, the beneficiaries would undergo training on the cultivation of the GCTCV 219 variety. Farmers who complete the training would be asked to pass on their knowledge to other farmers who would avail of the seedlings.

The DA Region XI has allotted a budget of P102 million this year to stop the spread and occurrence of Fusarium Wilt.The budget  would be used to fund various interventions such as infestation control and management as well as information dissemination. The fund would also be used to establish early detection systems to prevent further damage on banana plants.

The disease has caused massive damage to banana farms in the Davao region, causing large growers to lose millions in production losses. Most affected were farms in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte.

Fresh banana is among the country’s top 10 agricultural exports along with coconut oil, tuna, pineapple products, tobacco, dessicated coconut, seaweed and carrageenan, copra oil cake, centrifugal sugar, and manufactured tobacco.

BANANA COMPOSTELA VALLEY AND DAVAO DAVAO DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DR. SUSAN RAZO FUSARIUM FUSARIUM WILT GIANT CAVENDISH GRANDE NAINE INTEGRATED LABORATORIES DIVISION NORTE
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