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Colombia will Confirm the Presence of TR4 in August

19.7.2019

In the opening days of August 2019, Colombia will have the results of the samples sent to the Netherlands to confirm if the outbreak in two banana farms in La Guajira came from the Tropical Race Fusarium 4 (Foc TR4).

Due to the suspicion in the department of La Guajira, the Association of banana workers of Magdalena and La Guajira (Asbama) began a series of contingency plans with the help of national authorities, to contain an eventual outbreak of the fungus in more than 16,000 hectares of fruit grown in the area. The intention is to safeguard the health of the plantations in the north and the rest of the country.

For this, the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) has activated the contingency plan and is actively working with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, producers and the banana trade associations of the country.

"This is a supremely delicate matter for the country and for the continent," said the manager of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), Deyanira Barrero.

The Colombian Minister of Agriculture, Andrés Valencia, said that it is presumed that the Foc TR4 may have entered through Venezuela. "This country receives agricultural machinery from China and perhaps these were not cleaned properly, so they would have brought waste soil from that country where the fungus has been present," he said. Augura has also strengthened its biosecurity measures established long ago by the banana industry.

For more than 5 years, Augura and the ICA have worked jointly and co-ordinately on the necessary measures for the control and prevention of diseases in banana and plantain crops.

The Association of Banana Growers of Colombia (Augura) reported that it is working in a coordinated manner with the authorities in the control and prevention measures due to the suspicion of the presence of the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense race 4 tropical (Foc TR4) in four plantations located in the department of La Guajira, in isolated sites of the large banana and plantain  production centres of the country.

In Ecuador, the Minister of Agriculture, Xavier Lazo, reiterated that the fungus is not in the country and that the Agency for Regulation and Control of Fito and Zoo sanitary is using several strategies to prevent the entry of Fusarium Race 4.

Among the measures are: disinfection of containers and passenger footwear in seaports and airports, prohibition of importing genetic material, dissemination campaigns, training and others.

Lazo noted that US$ 18 million was allocated for the prevention stage. He added that attention is being paid to those areas where there is a greater concentration of producers. "We must focus there so that our training is effective. The goal is to prevent the entry of the disease and, if it enters to contain it," he said.

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