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Bolivia: The INIAF investigates the presence of the Fusarium fungus in bananas

The National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Innovation (INIAF) in Cochabamba (Bolivia) began investigating the presence of the Fusarium fungus in banana plantations in Chapare this week.

"We heard of the appearance of this fungus via press reports and thus, we have taken samples and are conducting laboratory tests at Chimoré," said INIAF's regional manager, Vladimir Colque.

He said that the investigations and laboratory results might take between ten and fifteen days.

In turn, representatives of the Banana Producers Union (Unabana) and the Ebita company, from the Tropic of Cochabamba, denied that the Fusarium was affecting two out of ten hectares of banana, as was reported last week by the regional coordinator of the Phytosanitary Certification Program (PROCEF), Luis Milan.

According to their explanation, the fungus attacks banana species such as the guineo banana, which could disappear, as well as plantain, but not the Valery Cavendish bananas; the export variety.

Ebita's general manager, Igor Guzman, reported that there was no presence of this incurable fungus in these banana plantations, he explained. "We should quarantine plantations, burn the area or leave it because there are no fungicides or chemicals that can fight this disease," he said.

Unabana's president, Angel Mariaca, said the Fusarium affects the plant's roots, but not the fruit for export and its impact on production, "is, at most, no bigger than three percent."

Fernando Franco, field technician for Unabana, added that the fungus was present in sandy soils and not in the clay-like soils where the largest banana plantations are located and there's almost no presence of the fungus.

Guzman reported that other pests such as the black sigatoka and the BSV virus transmitted by the mealybug, that if left unchecked, could affect banana plantations.

The spokespeople for Ebita and Unabana asked producers to report any problems in their plantations to prevent the fungus from spreading.


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