In May, Gert Kema, group leader of the banana research group of Wageningen UR, visited China to discuss the current Panama disease situation and new ways to slow down and prevent further spreading among Chinese banana plantations. Together with Prof. André Drenth, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, who leads the Banana Plant Protection Program, he visited the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences as well as several companies, banana plantations and research institutes in both provinces.
Kema: “In both provinces we saw the widespread occurrence of Panama disease, likely caused by Tropical Race 4. Unfortunately, the awareness level among farmers is low, which results in a rapid dissemination of the disease. We discussed the urgency of a regional approach to raise awareness and implement quarantine strategies. The first steps for a joint program have been taken”.