MOA RECEIVES 1200 TISSUE CULTURE TR4 RESISTANT PLANTLETS FOR TRIALS AND TESTING

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy have received one thousand, two hundred 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 the 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, one which is to assist ten islands/ ten countries to developing a national action plan for TR4, the other one was to conduct a simulation exercise in a high risk country that was done in Trinidad and Tobago, and the last part of this project was to support countries to receiving resistant germ-plasm to TR4. And this is the final phase and this is what we just received,” Mr. Laville stated.

Mr. Laville described the purpose of the project in Dominica. He says this 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 those planting material, basically to see how they comport themselves within our ecosystems, how they adapt to our agronomic practices etcetera. Because these plants are still under patent because of intellectual properties they are still patented. And so right now we are still in the evaluation stage in our country by the time if at all 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.