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International Presenters lead 3-day banana disease Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race TR4 Simulation Exercise later in June

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2024. 6:29 pm CST.

10 Belizeans attended the International Forum for Prevention & Containment of Banana Fusarium Wilt in Honduras in March 2023 – Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA), Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the Banana Growers Association is conducting a three-day banana disease Fusarium Tropical Race 4 (FOC TR4) Simulation Exercise that will be led by international presenters from June 26-28. The event is a closed event and is mostly geared for stakeholders who deeply involved in the banana industry or protecting Belize from the threat of this debilitating disease.

“Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (FOC) is considered one of the most devastating soilborne fungal pathogens of banana worldwide,” the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) said.

“The event will feature three international banana specialists who will lead comprehensive discussions and hands-on activities addressing FOC TR4.”

“This event promises to be an insightful and impactful experience, bringing together specialists, farmers, and international stakeholders in the banana industry to strategize and collaborate on combating FOC TR4.

The FOC TR4 (also known as Banana Wilt) Simulation Exercise will begin on Wednesday, June 26, at Dream Valley Resort in Teakettle in the Cayo District at 8:30 a.m.

Banana Wilt training by OIRSA in June 2022 (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

MAFSE in collaboration with OIRSA and Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) has been attending regional training events to keep the region free of Fusarium Wilt and have also conducted training workshops and exercises for Belizean stakeholders.

In order to reduce the chances of the disease reaching Belize via persons traveling by air to Belize, BAHA has installed sterilization mats at the international airport.

In November 2022, Belize through the Ministry of Agriculture, Taiwan through its Embassy and Technical Mission, and OIRSA signed the Belize Cooperation Agreement for the Execution of the ‘Regional Project for the Prevention and Control of Fusarium Tropical Race 4 of Banana in Central America’ at the Taiwan Technical Mission Office in Central Farm, Cayo.

In December 2022, six officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, including  Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), participated in a training event to control banana fusarium wilt at the Manuel Mejia Foundation in Pereira, Colombia.

In November 2023, Taiwanese experts and Central American representatives from Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador met to discuss how to fight Fusarium TR4 (Banana Wilt) disease and protect the banana industry’s future.

MAFSE said the Taiwan ICDF has been conducting research on disease-resistant varieties in Toledo and at the Ministry’s research station in Central Farm, and the results have attracted international attention.

In February 2024, Dr. Catalina Quintero, a Colombian biosecurity expert, led a two-day workshop with banana industry stakeholders on the updated contingency response plan against Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (Foc TR4).

Apart from those cases, MAFSE has afforded its officers more training opportunities abroad and has been continuously conducting training for Belizean stakeholders.


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