India’s banana farmers are reeling from the potential devastating effects of wilt disease, which is spreading across the country. The Tropical Race 4 (TR4) fungus strain which causes wilt disease in banana plants hit the world’s number one producer first in Cavendish plantations in Bihar, but subsequently in other areas too, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
The authorities are scrambling to develop measures that can control the spread of the disease and the issue will be uppermost in discussion taking place at the National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign later this week.
India produces over 29% of the world’s bananas, with an estimated 30 million tons grown annually on 0.8 million hectares. TR4 is a soil-borne pathogen which infests strikes the roots of plants before spreading to the vascular system and blocking transportation of water and nutrients in the stem, resulting in yellowing of leaves and eventually plant death. It can remain in soil for decades and is extremely difficult to manage.