GLOBAL ALERT AGAINST PANAMA DISEASE
THE GLOBALGAP ADD-ON
Fungal disease Fusarium Wilt TR4 is a time bomb ticking away. Having already caused massive destruction among banana plants in the Middle East and Far East, it is only a matter of time before the fungus hits South America. There is no cure, not a single resistant banana variety. AgroFair is coordinator of the TR4 Task Force and spreads the word, hoping to put preventive measures in place with the GlobalGap add-on.
The presence of TR4 was confirmed in Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Oman, Jordan, Mozambique and Australia, and destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of banana in those countries. Other countries await formal reports.
It is a matter of time before TR4 arrives in Latin America, the source of AgroFair’s bananas. If nothing is done to stop it, this disease could affect the livelihoods and food security of tens of thousands of families, including the AgroFair suppliers. There is only one viable strategy know to us at this moment and that is exclusion: preventing TR4 from entering the region. Because once it hits, there is no stopping it. Slowly, the world is beginning to respond: banana exporting countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica have started to set up contingency plans and campaigns to raise awareness. The regional plant protection organization OIRSA is working on a regional strategy and on an action plan for Latin America and the Caribbean. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization FAO is working on a global action plan on TR4 and the World Banana Forum WBF has set up a Task Force on TR4, active since December of 2013, coordinated by AgroFair.
TR4 COULD AFFECT THE LIVELIHOODS
AND FOOD SECURITY
OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES
Raising awareness is key; AgroFair spreads the message whenever and wherever she can, for example on events like the science debate on this theme together with Prof. Dr. Gert Kema, organized by the University of Twente, last December 2016.
In her efforts to stop TR4, AgroFair is also active on the lobby side of the trade. In the spring of 2017, the organization that governs standardization and certification of agricultural practices, GlobalG.A.P., launched an “add-on” in its standards. The add-on encourages producers to take preventive biosecurity measures at the farm gate, following a strict protocol. AgroFair has worked hard at setting this aspect of the exclusion strategy into place.
As World Banana Forum member, AgroFair was actively involved in the preparation of this Add-on, delivering, among other things, a presentation in the Technical Meeting on Crops of GlobalG.A.P., in September of 2016, and supplying detailed comments on the draft document on control points and compliance criteria. In her role as coordinator of the WBF Task Force, AgroFair put a lot of effort into opening the Task Force network to this GlobalG.A.P. initiative.
In February of this year, and together with GlobalG.A.P., the FAO and the World Banana Forum, AgroFair organized an event on the TR4 threat at the Fruit Logistica in Berlin. The event was targeted at different stakeholders of the banana industry: producers, traders, supermarkets and interest groups. One week earlier, teaming up with the World Banana Forum, AgroFair organized a Webinar on TR4 for small banana producers organized in the CLAC, the organization of fair-trade producers in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This November 9th AgroFair will be present with some of our producers from South America at the Banana World Forum in Geneva. Our colleague Luud Clercx will lead the panel discussion: Future of bananas: Managing the risks of Fusarium wilt TR4 : http://www.fao.org/world-banana-forum/wbf3/programme/en/