Banana farmers in the Philippines will be better equipped to fight the infectious Panama disease, following the announcement of a new assistance programme coordinated by the Netherland’s Wageningen University and Research Centre.

Dubbed PromoBanana, the partnership has been developed for the benefit of all banana producers, from smallholders to industrial-scale exporters.

The €3.1m project is based on research conducted in the Philippines by Wageningen, and will include the rollout of technology and services to assist with restoring banana plantations to health.

The funding includes a €1.9m subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with contributions from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology and BLGG AgroXpertus.

The Panama disease is threatening banana production throughout South-East Asia.

Not only does the fungal disease wipe out banana plantations, it also contaminates soils for decades and cannot be suppressed.

Another disease, Black Sigatoka, is also posing problems in Philipinnes, forcing banana producers to increase their use of chemical pesticides.