The Chira Valley in Peru is one of the main regions for the cultivation of organic bananas. Unfortunately, it is being seriously affected by Fusarium wilt, also known as Panama disease. Wageningen University & Research and its partners are taking a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem, using rapid detection, new varieties and new cultivation methods.

Gert Kema, professor of phytopathology and project team lead: “There are 8,000 smallholders in the Chira Valley growing organic bananas on around 10,000 hectares of land. The region produces 25 percent of the global supply of organic bananas. The presence of Tropical Race 4 – one of the Fusarium soil fungi that cause Fusarium wilt – is therefore very worrying.”

Rapid detection of new infections can slow down their spread. Scientists at Wageningen have already developed a rapid test for use in the field. It takes less than an hour for the test to identify an infection.