FUSARIUM WILT. Trichoderma, fungi that combat Fusarium wilt, are displayed at the Trichoderma Village-Level Biological Control (Biocon) Laboratory donated by the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) in Laak, Davao de Oro on Sept. 29, 2022. Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen, a breed of fungus that is attracted to banana plants. (Photo courtesy of Davao Oro PIO)

DAVAO CITY--Three towns in Davao de Oro received lab equipment worth PHP 2.9 million from the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-11) to combat the Panama disease or Fusarium wilt and boost quality banana production in the province.

In a statement Wednesday, the provincial government said three Trichoderma village-level biological control (Biocon) laboratory facilities with supplies and materials were turned over to the Fusarium wilt-infected towns of Maragusan, Mabini, and Laak on Sept. 29.

The turnover also included an upgrade of the tissue culture laboratory in Davao de Oro Farm in Barangay Pasian Monkayo town, which is the main source of pure culture Biocon products.

“Such provisions include the laboratory equipment, reagents, and the plan to construct an extension building for the laboratory that is set to rise once approved,” the statement said.

The project is funded under DA-11’s Banana Industry Development Program, which is aimed at increasing the production of Trichoderma and other Biocon products that are recognized as resistant to Fusarium wilt.

The Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen, a breed of fungus that is attracted to banana plants. It can live in dormancy for 30 years to 50 years.

Its fungi block plants' vascular system and deprive the plant of necessary minerals, nutrients, and moisture, causing it to turn yellow until it dies.

Marilou Infante, DA-11 regional crop protection center chief, said the initiative will result in the rehabilitation of infected banana farms in the province.

An accessible Trichoderma village-level laboratory will allow farmers to culture Biocon products that would prevent and control the spread of the disease, she said.

"Trichoderma is a friendly fungus combatting Fusarium wilt. Based on our study, if you will apply it weekly, you will defeat the disease," Infante said.

She said the laboratories will support not only the banana growers, but other local farming ventures as well. (PNA)