On 8 August 2014, Bioversity International received a recognition award from one of our key national partners in the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).
The recognition pays tribute to Bioversity International’s contribution to strengthen partnership and introduce technologies that benefit and improve the lives of Filipino farmers.
“Through the collaboration with DA-BAR, Bioversity International is working with research institutes and the private sector in the Philippines to address major concerns such as fusarium wilt disease management,” said Agustin Molina, Bioversity International Senior Scientist and Coordinator of our banana research efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.
Fusarium wilt (and in particular a strain of the fungus called tropical race 4 (TR4)) is a devastating banana disease that is threatening the production of Cavendish bananas in South-East Asia. The disease cannot be cured nor managed using chemical pesticides. The only major option for continued production in affected areas is replacing susceptible varieties with resistant ones. TR4 causes serious problems to smallholder farmers who grow Cavendish bananas, as they lack the technical and financial resources to cope with such epidemics.
Bioversity International conducted field trials in the Philippines on a resistant type of Cavendish banana from Taiwan, known as GCTCV 219, and further improved through field selection in farmers’ fields. The use of this variety is now being scaled out with the leadership of Bioversity International with funding from DA-BAR, helping to safeguard the livelihoods of smallholders affected by TR4. Although the bunches of GCTCV 219 are slightly smaller than those of the most popular Cavendish cultivars and the plants take longer to bear fruit, it is a sweeter banana and has been well received by farmers who have successfully exported the variety.
“The collaboration with DA-BAR is key in promoting these resistant varieties to smallholder farmers. The next step is to increase the production of planting material to help farmers meet the growing demand for GCTCV 219,” concluded Molina.
Photo: Agustin Molina, on behalf of Bioversity International, receives the award from Dr Teody Solsoloy, DA-BAR Deputy Director, Dr. Nicomedes Eleazar, DA-BAR Director, Dr Romeo Recide, Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, and the Hon. Evelina Escudero, Congresswoman and Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Foods in the Lower House of Congress.
Credit: Bioversity International/V. Sinohin