By Lu Yi-hsuan / Staff Reporter
Taiwan is using cutting-edge technology to help allies in Central America fight a new strain of Panama disease, which affects banana plants, the International Cooperation and Development Fund said yesterday.
Deputy Secretary-General of the International Cooperation and Development Fund, Stephen Lee (李志宏), told a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei that the organization had contributed to a project involving the National Space Organization. , the Taiwan Banana Research Institute and the Regional International Organization. for agricultural health to prevent the spread of Panama disease, tropical race 4 (TR4), caused by a fungus, in Central America.
“Since last year, we have been working with the National Space Organization to build a surveillance and alarm system for Panama disease using satellite technology,” Lee said, adding that nine satellite observation points have been installed in Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.
Photo courtesy of the International Fund for Cooperation and Development
The system has improved the analytical efficiency of data collected in countries and helped monitor the epidemic, he said.
Last month, the International Fund for Cooperation and Development, the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health and the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food organized a forum on phytosanitary measures in the region, Lee said.
Chiang Shih-chao (蔣世超) and Chao Shih-ping (趙治平), experts from the Taiwan Banana Research Institute, told the forum how Taiwan is tackling the TR4 strain, Lee said.
Taiwan has also helped resuscitate the banana industries of the Philippines and Mozambique by allowing them to export Panama disease-resistant fruit, he said.
“The forum brought together representatives of agricultural agencies from 17 Central and South American countries, and nearly 300 banana growers,” he said. “It shows that many countries have tried to learn from Taiwan’s experience and control to prevent and control banana disease outbreaks.”
“Banana exports from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize are valued at $1.421 billion a year,” Lee said. “We will continue to identify the needs of Central American growers and develop technology that can help them.”
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