- Recently a novel fungus strain called Fusarium wilt TR4, is devastating banana plantations across the globe.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization TR4 is one of the most destructive of all plant diseases.
- The strain, Tropical Race 4 (TR4), was first identified in Taiwan, and has jumped from Asia to the Middle East and Africa, reaching as far as Latin America.
- It cripples plantations by first attacking the leaves, which turn yellow from their trailing edges before wilting away.
- There is no effective remedy yet.
- TR4 has infected the most commonly sold variety, the one you mostly likely have for breakfast: Grand Nain (musa acuminata), a curvy yellow fruit.
- One could say it is the Covid-19 of the plant world.
- Hotspots have been found in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which we are trying to contain.
- India produces 27 million tonnes of bananas annually and grows about 100 named cultivars (varieties).
- Equador, the largest exporter, is currently the epicentre and scientists haven’t been able to ascertain how TR4 entered India.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is advocating a set of measures, known as “biopriming”.