Fernando García, PhD student at Wageningen University and Research centre, visited the city of Santa Marta in Colombia as a representative of the banana research team of Wageningen UR.AUGURA, the national banana producer organization of Colombia, invited him from August 12-14 to join a conference with the banana sector and discuss the ongoing banana research, particularly with respect to Panama disease.

The meeting was framed into the “V reunión técnica banenera de Colombia” (the 5th Technical banana meeting of Colombia). In this meeting several national and international institutions/companies gave an update about the situation of the banana industry in Colombia including the current situation with regard the menace of the Tropical Race 4 of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (TR4).

The recent outbreaks of TR4 in Mozambique, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Australia and the frequent visits of banana producers and service providers to this area as well as other interactions between various banana stakeholders in banana producing regions that are affected by TR4 prompted AUGURA to include the issue of Panama disease in the technical and academic meeting to address the current situation in Colombia and to foster discussion and alertness.

Overtime the banana research team, under de leadership of Gert Kema, established links with AUGURA, Corporation for Biology Research(CIB) and National University of Colombia campus Medellin (UNAL-Med) that all participate in the INREF project and were, along withSolidaridad, present in the meeting.

Contact Fernando García.


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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”.


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