Two Colombian banana production areas have been quarantined after an outbreak of the Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race IV (TR4) disease, which threatens the world’s bananas. The news has put neighbouring countries are on high alert. The announcement comes after several weeks of speculations among the sector but silence from the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA).
A national contingency is now in place that involves a quarantine of four farm blocks covering 150 hectares in the department of La Guajira, in the northeast of Colombia, near the border with Venezuela. There are new control points and tightened biosecurity control measures at points of exit.
Plant material has been sent to the Netherlands for laboratory testing, and results are expected in August. If the results turn out to be positive, this will represent a major threat to one of Latin America’s main industries. Ecuador has implemented its own contingency plan and strengthened biocontrol security at points of entry to the country. The International Organisation for Regional Plant and Animal Health (Oirsa) has urged all of its members to strengthen controls at borders, ports and airports.
The two infected farms are Eva Norte and Don Marce, the second of which supplies Dole with organic bananas.