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Banana producing countries unite against new devastating Fusarium R4T disease

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Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2019. 3:28 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: This week, banana-producing countries in the region signed a joint declaration to fight the Fusarium R4T disease, a fungus that devastates any banana plantation it enters.

Ministers of Agriculture and other representatives from the sector from Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru, among others, gathered on Monday to sign the declaration. During their meeting, the regional agriculture representatives discussed establishing protocols to prevent the entry of the Fusarium R4T fungus and controlling any discovered infections.

The fungus was recently discovered in the La Guajira Province in Colombia, which raised Belize’s risk level of infection and prompted a meeting of the agricultural authorities with banana industry stakeholders.

The Fusarium R4T originated in South East Asia in the early 1960s. Once infected, banana plants die rapidly. Bananas are one of Belize’s major exports, with the industry valued at approximately $75 million, and employing numerous and generate other forms of economic activity. With the risk of taking costly losses, authorities have already begun taking proactive steps to mitigate infection risks, including shoe disinfection mats at the Phillip Goldson International Airport for visitors potentially coming from where the disease is present.

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