BELMOPAN, Belize – Belize and Taiwan have launched the Regional Project for the Prevention and Control of Fusarium Tropical Race 4 of Banana in Central America.
Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Minister, Jose Abelardo Mai, signed the agreement with the Taiwanese ambassador, David Kuan-Chou Chien, that will result in more than six million dollars (One Belize dollar=US$0.49 cents) being invested by the International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF) Taiwan, the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA) and participating countries to enable capacity building, procurement of laboratory supplies and reagents, provision of sentinel farms with satellite image monitoring and introduction of varieties resistant to Foc TR4.
The project benefits the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
A government statement here said that since September 2021, Taiwan has carried out the joint pilot project stage with OIRSA and the authorities of the three participating countries to advance studies and activities with the objective of preventing and dealing with the Foc TR4 disease of bananas.
It said this includes international virtual forums with experts from Taiwan, face-to-face national fora, technical training sessions for the three countries and strengthening capacities in symptomatology and biosecurity measures. The Taiwan Space Center also cooperates with satellite monitoring of the disease through the establishment of nine sentinel points in Central America.
The cultivation of bananas and plantains has great potential for agriculture in Central America. Fusarium Tropical Race 4 is a quarantine pest that can survive for more than 30 years in the soil and so far, no cure has been found. This plague puts at risk the food security and the economy of the productive sector of the region with an export value of more than US$1.5 billion in 2020.
“Guaranteeing food security is an objective of all countries, so the Taiwan Technical Mission in cooperation with OIRSA and the agricultural authorities in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras are pleased to share through this project the successful experiences of Taiwan in dealing with Foc TR4,” the statement added.