Tesco has become the first UK retailer to require its banana suppliers to be assessed by the GlobalGAP TR4 biosecurity add-on following formal confirmation of the arrival of the devastating fungal strain in Colombia.
In a statement, the supermarket chain said it had taken the decision “to support the protection of banana production globally, and to help minimise the spread of the disease.”
The announcement follows the news earlier in October that an international research team has provided "formal scientific confirmation" that the recent instances of Fusarium wilt, or Panama disease, on two banana plantations in Colombia were the result of the potentially devastating fungal strain Tropical Race 4 (TR4).
The new requirement will take effect immediately, and producers are expected to implement measures to prevent the introduction of TR4. Suppliers will need to be assessed against the GlobalGAP add-on during their next Tesco Nurture assessment.
GlobalGAP said the add-on will help banana farmers to:
- Implement biosecurity measures that will help prevent the introduction of TR4 into their farm.
- Raise awareness of the risks posed by TR4 to banana production.
- Gain access to resources on this subject that will help them to continuously improve their practices.
- Demonstrate that they have implemented measures against this pathogen and can thus ensure long-term sustainability on their farm.
- Identify the risks for banana production today.
Tesco banana producers will receive a TR4 letter of conformance, and the results of the assessment will be visible on the GlobalGAP database. They must ask their certification body to perform the TR4 biosecurity assessment together with their normal GlobalGAP IFA and Tesco Nurture assessment.