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Costa Rica leads the way in preventing banana fusariosis

The International Regional Agency for Agricultural Health (OIRSA), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, through the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) and the National Banana Corporation (CORBANA) - among other institutions - are leading the way in the Prevention of fusariosis or wilt by fusarium in banana and plantain plantations. The tropical race 4 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp.cubense Is the main threat to these crops in the continent, which is why it is classified as quarantine pest of first level importance.

The entry of this pest to the continent would involve changing the production system of the entire surface, as the Cavendish-type materials are highly susceptible to it and the prognosis involves the change of varieties and a series of strategic measures to prevent or eradicate outbreaks, and contain the spread of the pest. Currently, in Costa Rica there are 42,717 hectares planted with bananas for export, according to data from the Executive Secretariat for Agricultural Sector Planning, SEPSA. The main strategy against the Foc R4T is its exclusion, so it is important to monitor and remove suspicious or positive materials from the disease.

In Costa Rica and other countries of the OIRSA region - such as Mexico, Honduras or Guatemala - exclusion and preventive measures are carried out through national technical groups composed of specialists and officials. Biosafety and research on Foc R4T in Mesoamerica is led by Costa Rica, with work done at CORBANA.

In turn, the national technical groups, Ministries of Agriculture and the private sector of the countries have the advice of the Latin American command for prevention and attention to possible outbreaks of Foc R4T and other quarantine pests, which is made up of experts from different institutions or agencies, including the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the National Service of Sanitation, Food Safety and Food Safety (SENASICA), the Plant Protection Institute of Cuba and OIRSA.

One of the priority tasks of the command is to update the contingency plans to minimize the risk of introduction or be prepared to eliminate outbreaks. To strengthen the capacity of exclusion or quarantine measures professionals are trained in ports, airports. To evaluate the capacity of prevention and attention to outbreaks of Foc R4T, simulations of the diagnosis of the disease, the elimination of outbreaks, and the confinement of affected areas, among others, are being carried out. To date, simulations have been carried out in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia. During 2017 there will be simulations held in Costa Rica and in all countries of the OIRSA region. The drills are also part of the training in biosafety measures that are currently being socialized at farm level and in larger areas.

A program for the dissemination of printed documents, audio-visual documents and computer applications is being prepared for the transfer of technology and knowledge. Costa Rica has a dissemination program, through the SFE and CORBANA, as well as academic institutions, that allows the socialization of strategies to sensitize producers, exporters and the general public in order to minimize risks of introduction of this pest. Strengthening the economic capacity to face an emergency declared by a Ministry of Agriculture is also a priority for the OIRSA, which is why the Agency is ready to act within less than a week to operate the national plans for the elimination of outbreaks in any country in the region.

Publication date: 7/11/2017


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