Wageningen scientists participate in Colombian Banana forum 2017

November 2017 Gert Kema and Fernando Garcia Bastidas gave a presentation at the III Colombian Banana forum 2017. About Sustainable Production: Challenges and Opportunities of the Colombian banana sector. The meeting was organised by the ASBAMA: Asociacion de Bananeros del Magdalena y la Guajira.



Gert and Fernando were invited to the meeting to explain about their research in the region. The research of Wageningen University & Research and local partners aims to support the region to grow bananas sustainably in a challenging context. Gert and Fernando are also part of the panel that is known as: The future of bananas: risks and threats of destructive and lethal diseases.

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Gert Kema crossed the globe

During the autumn of 2016 Gert Kema visited several important banana research teams and banana production regions and discussed many ongoing and new research projects around the globe.

Kema visited the Philippines from September 26-October 1 where he worked with PhD student Maricar Salacinas, and various INREF partners to start a field trial on anaerobic soil disinfestation to reduce the Foc inoculum in soils. He then continued to Indonesia to work with the Indonesian PI’s on administrative details of the KNAW-SPIN project and to discuss and prepare a joint science week later during the year (see below).

Gert Kema continued to Colombia with PhD student Fernando Garcia who addressed the banana growers in Santa Marta on the progress of the INREF program and to discuss current and future collaborative projects with the national banana corporation (AUGURA), the banana producers of Santa Marta (ASBAMA) and the National Agricultural Institute (ICA).
Mr. Fernando García-Bastidas MSc, Colombian PhD student in the INFEF program at Wageningen University and Research, was the main instructor during two banana Fusarium wilt training sessions in October and November 2016 at the substations of Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (The Colombian Agricultural Institute ) (ICA) in Antioquia and Barranquilla, Colombia. Fernando trained ICA staff in the identification of Fusarium wilt in the field and in laboratory detection through molecular techniques including PCR, qPCR and LAMP

In Ecuador Gert met various partners and discussed collaborative research and participated in the 13th International banana forum organized by ESPOL university and the Ecuadorian Banana Exporter Association (AEBE) where he gave a talk on the latest findings with respect of the genetic diversity in Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, the Fusarium wilt pathogen of banana. Gert also visited several banana producers to discuss the current problems and perspectives on-site in Quevedo and in Guayaquil together with Dr. Egbert Spaans, the Dutch honorary consul of The Netherlands in Guayaquil.

In China Gert visitied Dr. Sijun Zheng, Bioversity International and Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, in Kunming, China for a seminar and a field visit in southern Yunnan, bordering Vietnam, and from there continued to give a talk at the Southern China Agricultural University in Guangzhou. There he also continued the discussion on the possibility for collaboration between SCAU and Wageningen University & Research that was kicked off last May in Wageningen during a visit of a SCAU delegation.

After China, Gert continued to Indonesia for a science week with all KNAW-SPIN PhD students, the three post-docs and the Indonesian and Dutch PI’s. During this week the group studied overall diversity along 16 transects from a societal, agro-ecological, soil and disease perspective at four different sites on Java (see article on this subject below).

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Visit from the Philippines

A high diplomatic delegation from the Philippines visited Wageningen University and Research as well as several spin-off companies with major activities in Mindanao on November 22. The delegation comprised of Arnel V. de Mesa (National Deputy Project Director, Philippine Rural Development Project, Philippine Department of Agriculture), Marjorie Grace Rafols (Project Development Associate, Philippine Rural Development Project, Philippine Department of Agriculture), Rep. Jericho Jonas B. Nograles (Member, Philippine House or Representatives) and Erlinda Z. Aquino (Consultant, Philippine House of Representatives).

The interest of the delegation was primarily in banana R&D and potential technologies that can be implemented in the Philippines. Gert Kema incorporated several examples of technology push in an invited talk at a meeting titled “Innovation for sustainability: What can the Philippine-Netherlands partnership contribute”, which was organized at UP Los Baños to celebrate the 150th and centennial consular and diplomatic relationship between the Philipines and The Netherlands on March 10. Prof. Kema illustrated how the Netherlands made the agricultural sector attractive to young people by applying high end technology to the field. Besides, this use of high technology guaranteed a stable and relatively high income for farmers.

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Minister of Agriculture of Costa Rica visited Wageningen University and Research

On 21 November Mr. Luis Felipe Arauz, Minister of Agriculture of Costa Rica visited the banana program at WUR. Gert Kema and Rafael Segura Mena, INREF sandwich PhD from the national banana coporation of Costa Rica (Corbana), had the honour to explain ongoing banana research with a focus on Panama disease and black Sigatoka. The minister has a PhD in plant pathology from UC Davis and served as professor at the University of Costa Rica. As banana is among the most important export crops of Costa Rica, no wonder a lively discussion developed next to the greenhouse with over 4,000 young banana plants.

Also visite the official website of the Ministry Of Agriculture of Costa Rica:

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Team meeting in Miami

As a satellite meeting to the 2016 International Banana Congress & ACORBOAT meeting in Miami, Florida, the INREF team met at the University of Florida and Tropical Research Center, Homestead, Florida, April 18-19 2016.

The meeting was organized by Prof. Dr. Randy Ploetz, one of the members of the External Advisory Board (EAB) of the INREF program. The other members of the EAB, Prof. James Dale (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia), Dr. Fazil Dusunzeli (FAO HQ, Italy) and Dr. Ronald Romero (Del Monte Fresh Fruits, Costa Rica), were joined by the internationally renowned banana researchers Dr. Miguel Dita (Embrapa, Brazil) and Prof. Dr. Andre Drenth (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) to review the progress of the INREF program.

The meeting program involved short presentations of current research followed by a round of questions and discussions, followed by internal discussions and future prospects on the development and finalizing of the program. Presentations for the 6th International Banana Congress & 21st ACORBOAT meeting were developed and discussed. The EAB and guest reviewers were impressed by the results of the INREF program, which is a unique suite of interdisciplinary R&D projects that should be the foundation for new projects to continue international links, collaborations and research for managing Fusarium wilt in global banana production.

On April 19 – 22, 2016 the 6th International Banana Congress & 21st ACORBOAT meeting took place Miami too. Prior to the Corbana/Acorbat meeting the INREF team organized a stakeholder event on April 19th to discuss the INREF progress and perspectives with INREF partners and interested attendees. These presentations were developed during the INREF satellite in Homestead, and were discussed in lively round table feed-back/lunch discussions. The INREF students used this feed-back for articulating the final phase of their individual projects.

The 6th Corbana International Banana Congress and the 21st Acorbat meetings were for the first time combined and as such it was a unique event. However, the organizers also decided to move the meeting from San José, Costa Rica, to Miami to avoid any potential TR4 incursion into Costa Rica as the meeting attracted over 3,000 attendees from all over the world, including TR4 infested countries.

The combined 6th Corbana International Banana Congress and 21st Acorbat meeting is the largest banana sector meeting in the world. The industry gathers to discuss the latest developments throughout the sector with presentations from virtually every aspect of banana production. Disease control is always a major part of the program with substantial attention for black Sigatoka caused by Pseudocercospora fijiensis as well as soil management and reduction of chemicals. Regarding banana as a business a very complete and detailed overview was given on how the banana industry evolves and transforms to meet customer demands or other factors such as climate change, politics and various other subjects.

In addition, the organizers programmed one full day to discuss the TR4 threat and INREF was prominently present during this day. Prof. Randy Ploetz kicked-off the program with a key-note address on the history and status of Fusarium wilt in banana. This was followed by a talk of INREF coordinator Prof. Dr. Gert Kema about the latest developments about the global genetic diversity of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, with emphasis on diagnosis, detection and management practices as well as screening for resistance to TR4 in banana germplasm. Furthermore, scientists from Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, France, Honduras, South Africa, The Netherlands and Philippines presented their views and results on the threat of TR4. Presentations covered banana breeding – genetic engineering, conventional and somaclone development – TR4 diagnosis and detection as well as the potential of biological control. The breeding perspective provided a potential outlook for managing TR4 in the future despite the long-term horizon. The INREF team was represented by two keynote talks (Gert Kema and Jetse Stoorvogel), two short talks (Maricar Salacinas and Rafael Segura) and four posters.

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Fernando Garcia-Bastidas in Santa Marta Colombia

Last month Fernando Garcia-Bastidas was international speaker at the “I technical banana Colloquium: threats and challenges of the Banana sector facing variability and climate change” in Santa Marta Colombia. The meeting was organised by Asbama ( Asociación de Bananeros del Magdalena y la Guajira) and CIAT (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical). Fernando was invited to a dissertation of Panama Disease with emphasis on Tropical Race 4. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow scientists and to discuss threats and opportunities. In the picture from left to right: Dr. Mario Orozco-Santos (researcher at INIFAP, Mexico), Fernando (Wageningen UR, Netherlands), Dr. Anuar Escaf (CEO ASBAMA, Colombia) and Germán Calberto Sánchez (Researcher at CIAT, Colombia).

See also: http://asbama.com/?p=3174


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