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Socio-Economic Impacts of Fusarium Wilt Disease of Banana in the Asia Pacific Region


The agriculture sector is confronted by various challenges. In a rapidly changing environment affected by a warming climate, trans-boundary pests and diseases are likely to impact plant health. The emergence of some diseases in crops poses risks that affect not only the local and regional status of the agriculture sector but also global biosecurity risks.

Trans-boundary diseases have become a primary concern and constraint to sustainable agricultural production. The impacts of these diseases factor not just bin biodioversity and health issues, but also bear socio-economic implications. Specially in the developing countries where resources are limited to provide for a growing population, the need to assess the impacts of trans-boundary diseases is a major concern. Trans-boundary diseases are a primary constraint to the growth of plant, animal, and aquatic species, and are now responsible for severely impeding both economic and socio-economic development in many countries of the world (Subasinge,, n.d), thus, prompting various institutions to address these challenges with both proactive and reactive programs to sustain the agriculture and aquatic sectors. Aside from initiating programs to address the issues in trans-boundary diseases, the food security of the world’s population depends largely on each country’s ability to produce and provide food on the table. Disease outbreaks have serious negative impacts on food security.

Among the trans-boundary diseases of economic importance is Fusarium wilt of banana which is also known as Panama wilt and is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense ( Foc). Recognized as among the most destructive diseases of banana worldwide, Fusarium wilt poses another threat with reports of new outbreaks in Asia caused by Foc Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a highly virulent Foc strain that infects the Cavendish banana variety. A regional survey conducted in tropical Asia in 2006-2009by the Biodiversity International—Commodity Genetic Resources, Productivity and Value Chains Program, through its regional office in Asia, confirmed the presence of TR4 in China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Moreover, Foc Race 1 was found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Sri-Lanka and Vietnam. Foc Race 1 was the strain that ruined the Latin American Gros Michel industry. The movement of infected planting materials is among the perceived causes of Fusarium wilt in Asia(Sebastian, 2012).

There is a growing commitment among various agencies and organizations in promoting for the awareness and necessary actions towards the actual and potential impacts of trans-boundary diseases on the sustainability of the agriculture, livestock, and aquatic sectors, including trade and marketing of products. At present, there are different ways and measures to assess and characterize diseases in plant, animal, and marine resources—including technologies for diagnostics, and various communication strategies to inform the general public about the diseases (FAO/WHO, 2007).

A consultation workshop is being proposed to provide a venue for discussing the socio-economic impacts of Fusarium wilt in the Asia Pacific region; share experiences and approaches in managing the diseases; and usher in the discussion of innovative ideas and recommendations in crafting appropriate and effective institutional responses towards promotion of a regional cooperation for minimizing/arresting the spread of Fusarium wilt especially to diseases-free Asian countries. The consultation-workshop also provides a venue to discuss the impact of occurrences of diseases in relatiuon to the world demand for food, and aims to enlighten the participants in improving the delivery of public services.


  • To generate information on and document the economic and social impacts of Fusarium wilt on smallhold banana growers (farm level), on the community level, and on the industry level in the Asia-Pacific region;
  • To discuss mechanisms/approaches/initiatives adopted by various organizations and countries in addressing the problem on Fusarium wilt; and
  • Top explore possible collaborative strategies/institutional arrangements on minimizing/arresting the spread of Fusarium wilt in the Asia-Pacific region.

Major findings/recommendations:

  1. Manage the disease through an integrated approach that includes crop rotation to reduce soil inoculum levels and improvement of variety selections.
  2. Discourage reinventing research which may hamper the progress of previous research efforts.
  3. Converge line government agencies with national R&D programs, priority setting and direction setting established by the private industry.
  4. Create an independent R&D institution and technical group
  5. Harness potential of consortium, networks;
  6. Finalize, implement, monitor “policies” regarding protocol at all levels
  7. Use the policies as template to replace in other Asian countries with serious Fusarium wilt incidence;
  8. Continue collective and concerted awareness and advocacy campaigns and other strategies regarding Fusarium wilt identification and controlling at all levels
  9. Design an information platform (website) managed independently for information sharing
  10. Craft Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) regarding Fusarium wilt.
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