Lucknow institute develops ‘medicine’ to save banana crops

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Lucknow, Sep 3 (IANS) The Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) here has come up with a bio-formulant to save banana crops from fungal infection ‘fusarium oxysporum TR4’, or Panama Wilt, which is causing havoc for banana crop in several countries.

A ‘banana emergency’ has been declared in Columbia and other Latin American countries, parts of Asia, Africa and Australia, where the crop has been struck with the deadly disease that leads to wilting of the plant.

CISH Director Shailendra Rajan said: “The bio-formulant – ICAR fusicont — is a mix of fungi and bacteria that has succeeded in fighting the deadly disease known as Panama Wilt 4. This could be of immense value in saving the largest crop in several countries.”

Banana has been the most expanding crop of Uttar Pradesh and is threatening to overtake other states like Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal in terms of acerage and farmers evincing their interest in it. The crop area is reaching 92 lakh hectares in Uttar Pradesh.

The banana of Uttar Pradesh is in high demand in other states, in terms of size, shape, weight and shelf value. But in the last few years, a fungal disease has quietly gripped the crop in eastern UP – Gorakhpur, Kushinagar and other places – as well as Bihar’s Katihar and has destroyed the crop to a large extent.

The CISH Director said that the disease crept into UP farms through the Ghaghra, Gandak and Kosi rivers from Nepal and silently destroyed the crop, causing panic among banana cultivators.

The disease is said to be so challenging that once it grips a plant/crop, it is nearly impossible to be eradicated. It attacks roots and blocks the plant’s vascular system. Like other soil-dwelling strains, TR4 cannot be controlled using fungicides and fumigants, Rajan said.

Spot inspection and laboratory tests and two-year-long investigations have confirmed that it is the same ‘fusarium’ epidemic which has led to the declaration of ‘banana emergency’ in the Latin American countries and farmers in Asia, Africa and Australian continents were also struggling against this.



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