Davao scientist discovers way to fight Panama disease
Subscribe Now February 24, 2014 at 08:12am
Take for instance, the problem of licking the problem of Panama wilt disease, which is wreaking havoc not only to the Philippine banana industry but also to banana plantations in Honduras, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Africa, Australia and other countries trying to grow Cavendish bananas for export.
Faced by a widespread Panama attack to almost all Cavendish banana farms all over Mindanao, the Philippine government thru the agriculture department has set aside hundreds of millions of pesos to fight this plant disease that usually crop up during heavy flooding after heavy rains.
Most of this money goes to the pockets of “consultants” with names followed by “Ph.D’s” , who do a lot of deep research work and experiments and make recommendations, using conventional methods according to the all books they read about this dreadful disease.
Since they all do it “by the book”, they’ll recommend the intensive use of chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other chemicals to fight this plant disease — a market bonanza for big multi-million dollar foreign chemical companies supplying them to banana companies all over the world.
But the findings of a little-known Davao banana scientist here seemed to be working better than other research experiments being done by other groups, most especially the one funded by the Department of Agriculture, using “Cavendish” clones developed by Taiwanese scientists.
This local scientist, known as “Dr. Castillo” who was formerly a research director of an American banana company in Davao found out that the Panama wilt disease is not really a “disease” problem but a “nutritional problem” — a theory that was rejected by almost all the banana firms in the Davao Region. Behind his back, they were all laughing at him when he kept insisting that this supposed “dreadful disease” is simply a “nutritional problem”.
This is what happens to you when you think “out of the box”, according to Koronado Apuzen, executive director of the Foundation for Agrarian Reform Cooperatives in Mindanao or FARMCOOP, whose farmers’ coop plantation in Panabo volunteered the use of their affected farm areas to test this theory of Dr. Castillo.
Most of the soil underneath Davao banana plantations, according to Dr Castillo, have “lost all its nutrients” after more than 60 years of absorbing all kinds of chemicals— pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Fact is, this is something he had known all along since he was still with the banana export firm he was working for, but he didn’t want to antagonize his bosses and the chemical suppliers with his theory on the possible cause of Panama wilt disease.
Together with six foreign scientists from the Netherlands, Italy, Africa, USA, Australia and Costa Rica, along with Philippine scientists from UP Mindanao, I saw the farm experiment— how it’s done and the impressive results on treated banana plants. Dr. Castillo’s theory was clearly working and all the banana scientists were all impressed.
“We’re very, very impressed with what you’ve done so far,” says Dr. Gert Kema, a Dutch scientist from Wageningen University, the Netherlands who saw how the treatments were done on the banana plants.
It was all the more impressive because all the treatments made on affected banana plants were done using only ORGANIC pesticide and fertilizer. The organic pesticide was 100% organic from Japan that Apuzen even drank a few gulps just to prove it’s really organic.
Fertilizer used on the affected plants was also pure organic made from chicken manure, coco peat, banana rejects, burnt palay, etc produced by the Organic Producers and Exporters Corporation, the trading arm of FARMCOOP.
A scientist from UP Mindanao , visibly impressed after watching the demo by a farmers’ coop on fighting Panama wilt disease, told the visiting foreign scientists that “this can be nominated for a Novel Prize” for discovering a natural treatment for the dreaded plant disease.
Question is : Have we finally found the cure to fight Panama disease in all the world’s banana plantations? (PNA)
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