Mozambique's government has implemented quarantine measures to help control an outbreak in the country of a fungal pathogen that is ravaging banana plantations all over southeast Asia (see To be effective, these efforts must be backed by prompt diagnosis and management of the disease.

The TR4 fungus (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Tropical Race 4) is one of several genotypes that cause Fusarium wilt, or Panama disease. It can be swiftly identified by using molecular diagnostics, but plantation workers must first be able to recognize and rapidly report the early symptoms of infection.

To this end, Bioversity International, a non-profit research and training centre, and its regional partners are offering training in field expertise (see and

Governments and the banana industry must supply more funds if the disease is to be contained. The money will help to extend and consolidate educational and management initiatives, enable the gathering of comprehensive epidemiological data and stimulate research — for example, into fungus eradication or the development of resistant banana cultivars.

The costs will be negligible compared with the long-term cost to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people if the disease spreads.