Bounpheng Sihomchanh1, Khonesavanh Chittarath2, Dr Tony Pattison3
1Horticulture Research Centre, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
2Plant Protection Centre, Department of Agriculture, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
3Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, South Johnstone, Australia
Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc) Tropical Race 4 (TR4) has been found to be widespread in Cavendish (Musa AAA) banana plantations managed by Chinese concession owners. TR4 has been found in the northern and central provinces but has not been detected in the southern provinces or in the local Laos plantations. Surveys were conducted to determine the spread of the disease and the impact on local banana production. Furthermore, as the local production systems are a diverse mix of crops, it was important to characterise and understand the different types of banana production systems in Lao PDR. The surveys were conducted in Xiengkaoung, Udomxay, Laungphabang, Vientiane Province, Sekong, Borlikhamxai, Salavan, Savannaket, Vientiane Capital, Attapue and Champasak provinces. The surveys focused on Chinese and Laos farmer’s plantations with interviews of 100 farmers and collected 200 samples. Sections of pseudostem tissue were removed from low in pseudostem of bananas, where discolored strands were present. These samples were plated in the laboratory to isolate the putative wilt pathogen.
Four categories of banana production in Lao PDR were identified, based on cultivar, cropping systems, inputs and markets. TR4 was widespread on concession farms growing Cavendish in northern Laos. Furthermore, TR4 was moving south into central Laos and new areas of the disease were being located with the development of new plantations. Foc Race 1 was widespread in local Pisang Awak (Musa ABB) plantations, regardless of the cropping system. Common among all banana production systems was the lack of on-farm biosecurity and poor knowledge about Fusarium wilt.
Bounpheng SIHOMCHANH is the team leader of Plant Protection and Post-harvest Technology Section under Horticulture Research Centre(HRC) umbrella National of Agriculture and Forestry Institute(NAFRI), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Laos PDR. Bounpheng is a plant pathologist working specifically on tomato, chili, and banana diseases. He is responsible for implementing disease surveillance on tomato fusarium wilt, Chili early blight, and Panama disease. He also implements studies on the screen resistant variety of chili controlling early blight(alternaria solani), tomato fusarium wilt and banana growing system on disease outbreak, crop management practices such as crops rotation to reduce fusarium wilt.