By Dr. Harry Rajamannan, President Agro-K Philippines, Harry.email@example.com; Robert Barnett, Rbarnett1249@gmail.com
The big news for banana growers around the world is Fusarium Race 4 (FOC) is a conquerable disease!
Over the past year, experiments were run on banana plants infected with FOC. A banana farm In Davao North, Philippines where FOC is endemic was selected as the experimental field. This farm of 1500 hectares, had a history of losing hundreds of hectares a year to FOC.
Since FOC would exhibit the typical symptoms only when the plant is stressed and at flowering, the experimental plots were selected when a mat was found that exhibited the symptoms. The first twelve mats that came down with the disease were selected as the experimental plots.
As soon as one mat showed the symptoms, every other surrounding mats to the infected mat, a total of 7 mats, that had the potential to spread the disease were vaccinated. The non-vaccinated mats served as controls. This vaccine was developed and tested by Agro-K Philippines for over three years (2016-2019) using immune therapy vaccines to resist the fusarium infections. Dr. Harry Rajamannan, Agro-K, has 25 years’ experience in the research and development to replace the use of pesticides to treat banana diseases with immune therapy and nutrients.
The injection dose was 10 c.c. injected into the treatment mats which were in various stages of growth. As mentioned earlier, as a control, alternating mats surrounding the infected plant were not vaccinated.
These mats were observed for 12 months post vaccination for the results. At flowering time, all the vaccinated and non-vaccinated plants were observed for symptoms of FOC or being completely clean. Every single mat that was vaccinated was completely clean at flowering. All the unvaccinated plants came down with FOC.
The most important data gathered was that the vaccinations were able to immunize plants even as close to a month pre-flowering.
Roberto Barnett with vaccinated plant
The second most important effect recorded was the immunity being sustained by the Daughter. We will continue to monitor the test plots to see if the Granddaughters will also be immune to FOC.
It is very important to emphasize that in order to prevent the spread of FOC, along with these described immune therapy vaccines, a level one Biosecurity and Disease Management Program be implemented at any and all banana farms across the globe.
Outlined below are recommended biosecurity precautionary measures and protocol to reduce the spread of this disease.
COUNTRIES WHERE FUSARIUM RACE 4 (FOC) DOES NOT EXIST
1) All passengers who are coming from or having visited any country where bananas are grown in Asia into Fusarium Race 4 (FOC) infection free countries will have to be advised at the port of entry to NOT be allowed to enter into banana growing areas.
2) Banana tourists to be WARNED to not go into the banana growing areas. All travel websites concerning travel to these non-fusarium infested countries should add this WARNING to their website content.
COUNTRIES WHERE FUSARIUM RACE 4 (FOC) DOES EXIST
It is vital and of utmost necessity all banana farm points of entry have a thorough and detailed Biosecurity and Disease Management Program implemented regardless the cost to safeguard against further spread of FOC.
1) Each person entering a banana farm must wear rain boots that have been dipped into deep sterilizing troughs that have a brush to scrub any soils that are on these boots. Highly important to have extra rain boots available for visitors to be loaned upon entry if they do not have them.
2) All vehicles entering or exiting into the banana growing farms undergo a pressure washing not only the tires but the entire underside of the vehicles by high pressure washing nozzles buried below the deep troughs so that the operator can use it to wash all the undersides of the vehicles to avoid bringing any clods of soil from an infected areas and/or taking it to any clean areas.
3) All managers, workers and drivers must be given a course on biosecurity protocol and disease management that the company will establish to protect all their jobs and ultimately, the banana industry.
4) Agro-K Philippines has developed a vaccine to be injected into all the mats surrounding the infected plants in order to immunize them from the disease. The vaccine works even injected one-month pre-flowering. The good news is this immunization is carried to the Daughters. This vaccine is a relatively inexpensive immunization therapy compared to the high cost of denuding vast areas of the banana farms as the disease spreads very quickly. To-date, China has lost 20% of their banana growing areas.
5) All infected plants, either single or multiple mats, along with non-infected mats in that given surrounding area, be segregated or quarantined with meter-high chicken wire netting to prevent dogs, cats and chickens going in and out of these areas. Bamboo notices and warning signs simply are not enough to stop the spread of this invasive disease. Any of the non-infected banana plants surrounding the infected plants need to be vaccinated from outside the barricade. To avoid contamination, no person should be allowed to enter into these barricaded areas to harvest even a single bunch of fruit. Furthermore, the soil in this barricaded area must be sterilized using a sterilant solution sprayed from outside the barriers to drench the surface of the soil completely. This process of sterilizing the surface areas of the soil prevents the spread of the disease by rain or wind. Important to note, regarding these abandoned areas, once the surface soils have been sterilized, there is the option to plant Meristems. Every plant can now be injected with the FOC vaccine to allow them to produce bananas that can be harvested by workers standing outside the barrier practicing the above biosecurity protocols.
About Dr. Harry Rajamannan
Dr. Harry Rajamannan was born on Feb 27th 1931 in Sri Lanka. He got his Ph.D at the University of Minnesota, USA in 1963. He developed the world first Commercial Embryo Transplants of Cattle, pigs and Horses in the world in 1971, which had obtained over 18 USA and world patents. Dr. Rajamannan started my own Agriculture Company Agro-K U.S.A. in USA 55 years ago and has branches in Philippines, Costa Rica and Panama. He researched published articles on novel ways to use nutrients to replace Pesticides used in Agriculture for growing vegetables, Fruit crops, Potatoes and bananas. In 2016 he developed Vaccines for Black sigatoka, Fusarium and MOKKO, to replace pesticides on Bananas. Published as Posters” GROWN FREE OF PESTICIDE” articles in past two ACROBATs in 2017 and 2018.
This article was initially published in AgroPages '2019 Market Insight' magazine. Download the PDF version of the magazine to read more articles.