Fusarium Wilt (FW) of Banana Disease currently presents a serious threat in Indonesia and Malaysia. Still lacking proper prevention, the disease has damaged banana production in Malaysia at a startling 90-100% rate. In Thailand, the disease was first discovered in Yala province and has since spread to other neighboring southern border provinces like Pattanee and Narathiwat. For this reason, PSU decided to conduct a research aimed to identify preventive innovation and treatment. Following an integrative approach, the research process included classifying causes of FW infection and carrier insects, identifying new and natural bioactive compound, strategizing a plan to tackle the epidemic, setting up a knowledge kit about the disease and disease control, providing training workshops with agencies and farmers in the area, monitoring the implementation of preventive and control measure. The ultimate goal was to be rid of FW disease and epidemic in southern border provinces within 2018.
- Collect samples of pathogen from infected banana trees in Yala province. Pure pathogen was isolated with specific food formula. The pure pathogen isolates were used to establish Koch’s postulates. Bimolecular techniques were employed to understand the pathogen.
- Collect insect sample using a unique trap. Classify the insects and the disease they carried based on morphology and also the use of bimolecular technique.
- Test for antimicrobial activity in herbal plant extract and lab-grade anti-bacterial chemicals that are comparable to antibiotics.
- Test for effectiveness of antimicrobial activity and anti-bacterial chemicals to control FW disease in a farm in Bannang Sata district, Yala Province. These chemicals are currently undergoing patenting process.
- Present the newfound set of knowledge about FW disease management to the local agencies. Develop collaboration with the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SB PAC), Natural Biological Control Research Center, Office of the Farmers Council of Yala Province, Yala Community College, Community Enterprise Network Saba Banana Cluster for sustainable use of the knowledge.
FW disease is caused by bacteria and spread through carrier insects. Therefore, three preventive measures are: 1) Using anti-bacterial chemicals to stop the epidemic immediately; 2) Using antimicrobial compound from herbal extracts and cultural practice for pest management; 3) Control the disease in the area connected to the infected area through knowledge transfer and trainings to farmers. This project requires cooperation from all sectors involved in order to be successful.
- Knowledge kit on FW disease management. Patent rights on the preventive compound and chemicals as well as the insect trap.
- Policy-based information and a set of the knowledge are instrumental to mobilize all involved organizations to work toward a solution.
- Collaboration between TRF and SB PAC. Admiral Somkiat Polprayoon, Secretary General of SB PAC, together with Dr. Chanathun Saengpoom, Assistant Secretary General SB PAC, submitted the research Deputy Prime Minister General Pravit Wongsuwan who passed along to to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-Ocha. The report thus birthed an order from the PM to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to come up with a preventive plan and management of the disease in three southern border provinces. SBPAC has been in charge of monitoring the implementation of such plan. Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI) has provided training workshops to over 1050 farmers in the areas. The Secretary General of SB PAC emphasized the necessity to continue with the disease management in order to increase banana production in these areas where the demands are high. Farmers are encouraged to grow bananas in rubber farm to earn supplemental income.
Outstanding factors of the research
- Extensive knowledge on the disease and its mechanism
- Insect trap and antimicrobial compound from herbal extracts combined with cultural practice that can effectively be used to prevent and control FW but also safe on the bananas production (Central Laboratory (Thailand) Company Limited, report number TRSK61 / 1031.
The new set of knowledge also makes sustainability possible for commercial banana farmers.
This piece of research presents how knowledge can be used toward finding sustainable solution to a community’s problem, fitting for the King’s vision of “Our Soul is for the Benefit of Mankind”.
Dr. Patimapon Plodpai
Faculty of Natural Resources, Prince of Songkla University