Certification programme GlobalGAP has developed a tool whereby banana producers can curb the spread of the devastating Panama disease Tropical Race IV (TR4) and and also show evidence of their efforts.
The ‘TR4 Biosecurity Add-On for Bananas’ is described as an innovation in the programme’s family of standards, since it is the first commodity-specific add-on that focuses on a major pathogen.
It tackles biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction and spread of TR4, or Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense.
TR4 is a plant disease of the roots of banana plants. It is a fungus but it cannot be controlled by fungicides or chemical, posing a serious threat to the worldwide banana production.
The new add-on was developed the FAO’s and GLOBALGAP stakeholders’ urge to step up action against the disease.
“This Add-On has been developed through an extensive collaboration with producer organisations from various countries, leading scientific institutions, plant protection agencies and other stakeholders such as certification bodies (CBs),” GLOBALGAP said.
“The TR4 Biosecurity Add-On equips Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) certified producers (for bananas only) with a tool to perform a detailed risk assessment of their banana plantations and provides the basic points in the preparation of a mitigation plan.
“The requirements build on the Good Agricultural Practises set out in the IFAStandard and the Add-On is therefore only applicable to those producers that have IFA certification for their banana production.”
At the same time, CBs assessing the add-on need to have provisions in place in order to ensure that proper disinfection measures have been performed by their auditors before and after visiting a banana plantation.
The TR4 Biosecurity Add-On is a voluntary assessment – not a certificate – which will be visible in the GLOBALGAP Database.