While farm scientists from the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) and the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) together have developed a bioformulation called ‘ICAR-FUSICONT’ to fight the fungus, the lockdown has limited the scale of production. The production was happening on a small scale earlier but it came to a halt due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, we took special permission and began production. Our scientists are braving all odds to come for work during the lockdown period, ICAR-Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) Director Shailendra Rajan said.
  1. The CISH director developed the bioformulation along with CSSRI Principal Scientist T Damodaran. They are awaiting regulatory approval for commercial production, though parent body ICAR has asked them to scale up the output to ensure its availability to farmers at a cheaper rate.
  2. Stating that it was necessary to put into motion the production of this product in this lockdown, Damodaran said because it has to be applied before the banana planting begins from June in these two states. Its application during May is of utmost important.
  3. The disease is highly transmissible and easily spreads through the exchange of planting materials (banana suckers), water, and movement of people and equipment. About 50 per cent crop has been lost to this disease in the last two years, hitting the farmers income.
  4. Since the lockdown limited direct interaction with farmers, Damodaran said the CSSRI-CISH scientists began using an online Zoom App to hold meetings with banana growers and support them in crop management.
  5. In Uttar Pradesh, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Ayodhya, and Sant Kabir Nagar are four highly infected districts. The secondary infection has spread to other three districts of Ambedkar Nagar, Sitapur and Barabanki.
  6. In Bihar, the disease spread first from Katihar to Purnia, Bhagalpur, Hazipur and Naugachia districts. The secondary transmission has taken place in Sitamarhi district.
  7. Many farmers are demanding the government to improve the supply of this new product ICAR-FUSICONT’, which can help them save the crop and reduce losses.
  8. The production has been undertaken right now for meeting the demand of growers in highly infected areas of the two states.
  9. The CSSRI-CISH are producing 1,000 kg a month, against the requirement of 1,500 kg. So far, 800 kg has been supplied to Uttar Pradesh only. No supply could be made to Bihar due to hurdles in inter-state movement of goods.
  10. India is the largest producer of bananas and accounts for 29.1 per cent of the global output.