TR4 resistant variety to be commercialized

Du Roi Laboratory and Taiwan banana research go for TR4 resistant variety

Du Roi Laboratory, a banana tissue culture facility in South Africa, has ascertained the rights for the field evaluation and eventual commercialization of the Formosana variety, a Panama disease (FOC TR4) resistant variety. This strain of Panama Disease is devastating to banana growers across the world and severely impacts on their profitability and the success of the global banana industry.

Du Roi Lab has signed an agreement with the owners of the variety, the Taiwan Banana Research Institute (TBRI), to evaluate Formosana in certain banana producing countries in Africa and Central and South America. The intention of TBRI and Du Roi Lab is to offer Formosana commercially following successful results of commercial trials.

Dr Chih-Ping Chao, head of TBRI says, “We are excited to partner with Du Roi Lab to provide a viable option to banana growers against this strain of Panama disease. We find Du Roi as a reliable and efficient partner in the provision of tissue culture of Formosana for wider commercial adaption trials and eventual use towards managing and or containing FOC TR4 epidemics.” According to Dr Agustin Molina, international technical consultant of the TBRI, Formosana have great potential in coping and managing Fusarium based on successful commercial experiences in the Philippines and Mozambique.

Dr Viresh Ramburan, CEO of ANB Investments, the holding company of Du Roi Laboratory, says, “Given the reliance of many growers and their families on this industry, it is important that we offer them options to combat this debilitating disease. We value the relationship we have developed with the TBRI over the last few years and look forward to contributing to the success of their banana genetics programme through evaluations and future sales.”

“It is a really significant breakthrough for the global banana industry as the Formosana variety is commercially proven to be resistant to Tropical Race 4 (FOC TR4) Panama disease caused by the soil-inhabiting fungus,” explains Suné Wiltshire, General Manager of Du Roi Lab. “We are very excited to be able to partner with TBRI and offer this variety to our clients and the international banana industry. It serves to reaffirm our commitment to innovation to the benefit of the industry.”

Du Roi Lab is an international industry giant, responsible for the creation of some 8 million banana plants annually, distributed to more than 25 countries worldwide. This ISO 9001 accredited facility, established in 1994, today employs 150 permanent employees and has the country’s only bio-secure foundation block for elite selections of such banana varieties as the Williams, Chico, Apollo and Nandi. All material is indexed for relevant viruses, bacteria and funguses and they offer complete traceability from foundation block to grower.

The Formosana variety bred by TBRI will arrive in phases at the Agricultural Research Centre VOP (Vegetable and Ornamental Plants) facility in Pretoria, South Africa where it will remain in quarantine until results are obtained for indexing of various viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. This is to ensure the complete safety of the variety in the South African environment. Thereafter it will go to Du Roi Lab’s facility from where it will be provided to international partners for field adaption commercial trials. Some of these seedlings will be grown as foundation stocks in the Du Roi foundation block.

For more information:
Suné Wiltshire
Du Roi Laboratory

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