After new alert, Mapa reinforces actions against incurable banana pest in São Paulo

Reports of fusariosis dispersion in Peru justify intensification of control in São Paulo; Vale do Ribeira is the largest producing region in the country

06.07.2022 | 16:21 (UTC -3)
Collection made this year in a banana producing region. - Photo: Wilson Moraes /SFA-SP/ Disclosure Map
Collection made this year in a banana producing region. - Photo: Wilson Moraes /SFA-SP/ Disclosure Map

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa) issued a warning for its federal superintendencies in the states to reinforce monitoring of banana tropical race 4 fusariosis. The disease has not yet reached Brazil, but cases were confirmed in Colombia in 2019 and in Peru in 2020. Recently, reports of the possible spread of the plague to other Peruvian regions have emerged, as well as suspected occurrences (not yet officially confirmed) in other countries. Latinos who border Brazil.

In the State of São Paulo, where the largest banana producing region in the country is located, Vale do Ribeira, monitoring and prevention actions were carried out in the first half of the year. However, due to this new alert issued at the end of May, the team at the Federal Superintendency of Agriculture (SFA-SP) decided to extend monitoring and reinforce preventive actions.

Tropical race 4 fusariosis affects the plant through infected soil, contaminated seedlings and infected agricultural implements and pruning instruments. When penetrating the plant, the pest clogs the vessels that carry the sap, preventing the movement of nutrients and water.

“As a consequence, the plant dries out, turns yellow and dies. The fungus remains in the soil for more than 40 years, making continued cultivation in the area unfeasible. There is still no chemical control that can combat the disease, nor varieties resistant to it in Brazil and around the world”, explains agronomist and phytopathologist Wilson da Silva Moraes, from SFA-SP. The only way to avoid losses is prevention.

The disease has already spread to Indonesia (1990), China (1996), Philippines (2008), Africa (2013), Australia (2015) and America. In 2015, the FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – issued an international alert to try to contain the spread of fusariosis.


From the 5th to the 8th of July, collections are being made in the regions of Riolândia, Santo Antônio do Aracanguá, Getulina, Novo Horizonte and Colina. The idea is to intensify the surveys, starting from areas not yet visited to regions where monitoring has already been carried out previously, such as Vale do Ribeira and Planalto Paulista. This survey will be carried out in all municipalities that produce bananas commercially.

Also in this second semester, SFA-SP will promote lectures aimed at rural producers. To do this, it will need to involve cooperatives, associations and rural unions. These guidance actions should take place in the regions of Fernandópolis, Jales, Andradina, Assis, Avaré, São Bento do Sapucaí and Vale do Ribeira.

Negative tests 

Since 2019, Mapa has been developing work to prevent and monitor not only tropical fusariosis race 4, but also banana moko. From March to May, five collection stages took place: the first in municipalities in Vale do Ribeira, the second in Taubaté, the third in Jales, Fernandópolis and Andradina, the fourth in Assis and Avaré and the last in Campinas and Aguaí. Collections involve the vascular system of plants (stem and root fillets).

In total, 70 samples have already been collected for fusariosis and 70 for moko. The samples are analyzed by Mapa's official laboratory located in Goiás. The results take 7 to 15 days. So far, all samples have tested negative for both diseases.

In 2019 and 2020 monitoring was regular, in several regions of the state. In 2021, collections were only made in Vale do Ribeira, due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and adverse weather conditions. In 2022, so far, Vale do Ribeira, Vale do Paraíba and western São Paulo have been covered.

Banana moko is caused by a soil-dwelling bacteria. The disease already occurs in the northern region of the country and infects from the root to the inflorescence [part of the plant where the flowers are located] or cluster. Moko can be spread by infected seedlings, contaminated tools, or by root-to-root or soil-to-root contact.

Another important vehicle of transmission are insects that visit inflorescences, such as bees, wasps and fruit flies. The disease compromises the development of the banana tree and the only way to control it is early detection and rapid eradication of infected plants and those nearby. “Even though they appear to be healthy, the seedlings may have already contracted the disease,” explains Moraes. 

LS Tractor February