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Dominica to research 1200 tissue culture TR4 Resistant Banana Plants

By GIS Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica – The ministry of agriculture, fisheries, Blue and green economy received 1,200 tissue culture plantlets to undertake establishment and trials for Tropical Race 4 (TR4) Resistant Banana Plants.

Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is the name of the fungal strain that causes Fusarium Wilt also known as Panama Disease.

Due to the capacity of TR4 to survive indefinitely in the soil, along with its lethal impact on Cavendish cultivars and wide host range, TR4 is ranked as one of the greatest threats to banana production.

Under the Support to Pest Exclusion in the Caribbean- Efforts to exclude TR4 in the Caribbean Project Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/ APHIS) and technical assistance from IICA, Dominica has received the plants and supporting materials to undertake open field trials and evaluate compatibility and resistance in the final phase of the project.

Head of plant protection and quarantine service, Nelson Laville provided details about the status of the project.

Under this project, there were three main activities: (1) to assist ten islands/ten countries to develop a national action plan for TR4, (2) to conduct a simulation exercise in a high-risk country that was done in Trinidad and Tobago, and (3) to support countries to receiving resistant germ-plasm to TR4. This is the final phase and this is what we just received,” Laville stated.

Laville described the purpose of the project in Dominica will mitigate the impact of TR4 if the fungal train comes to our shores.

“The purpose for having this planting material at this agricultural station is to enable the staff of the ministry of agriculture, to do evaluations on these planting materials, [basically] to see how they comport themselves within our ecosystems, how they adapt to our agronomic practices etcetera.

“These plants are still under patent because of intellectual properties … and so right now we are still in the evaluation stage in our country,” said Laville, “By the time, and if, TR4 gets into Dominica, we will have some germplasm already evaluated and can understand and made available to farmers so we don’t fall way back when that disease comes into Dominica and with the possible potential of devastating our banana sector,” he explained.

The Tropical Race 4 (TR4) Resistant Banana plants received are now being hardened and weaned at the Portsmouth Agricultural Station and will be distributed to commercial farmers and various agricultural stations.




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