BanacXin, a bio vaccine from Innoterra to battle Fusarium Wilt TR4

Author(s) and Affiliation

Dr. Anup Karwa, Director, Innoterra BioScience, Innoterra.

March 25, 2024

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Executive Summary

Around a decade ago, Innoterra set out to revolutionize the food ecosystem in India by leveraging technology to create integrated agri-food businesses. Innoterra’s deep experience in working with banana cultivators to grow export quality bananas has helped in creating sustainable value for all stakeholders. Innoterra’s BanacXin represents a transformative solution to the pervasive threats of Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a devastating fungal disease endangering global banana cultivation. Traditional chemical fungicides fall short in tackling these diseases, often with environmental and health risks. BanacXin, a naturally derived bio vaccine, offers a breakthrough with its organic, eco-friendly, and human-safe formulation. Extensive field trials demonstrated its remarkable efficacy in controlling both Fusarium Wilt TR4 (Panama Disease) as well as Sigatoka, while also benefiting plant growth and yield. With the global banana industry sustaining millions and facing severe risks, BanacXin emerges as a cost-effective, sustainable, and game-changing solution for ensuring the future of banana cultivation.

Introduction

Banana cultivation faces significant threats from Fusarium Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a deadly fungal disease. This disease poses a substantial risk to the global banana industry, affecting popular banana varieties including Indian varieties and causing economic losses. Traditional chemical fungicides have limitations in terms of effectiveness and long-term sustainability. In response to these challenges, Innoterra has developed BanacXin, a game changing vaccine that offers comprehensive protection against TR4 while being organic, eco-friendly, and safe for both humans and the environment.

Understanding the Threat

The threat of Fusarium Wilt TR4 (Panama Disease) and Sigatoka pose a significant risk to the global banana industry, which sustains millions of people worldwide. With over 400 banana varieties cultivated globally, and the Cavendish banana alone accounting for 47% of production, the impact of TR4 and Sigatoka on supply chains is substantial. In 2022, global banana exports reached a staggering 19.6 million metric tons (as per FAO.org), further highlighting the urgency of addressing these destructive diseases.

India, being one of the largest banana producers with an annual output of 32 million tons, is particularly susceptible to TR4’s widespread impact. In some states, where vulnerable cultivars including Indian varieties are extensively grown, disease severity has escalated to alarming levels of 80-90%.

Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is a fungal disease infiltrates banana plants through the roots, obstructing their vascular system and ultimately leading to plant death. Popular banana varieties like the Cavendish and Indian varieties are at risk.

The Limitations of Conventional Fungicides

Conventional chemical fungicides have several limitations – they are:

  • Chemical-based: They contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to the environment, humans, and long-term plant health.
  • Pathogen Resistance: These fungicides can lead to pathogen resistance over time.
  • Limited Effectiveness: They are limited to surface application and are ineffective against soil pathogens like TR4.
  • Frequent Application: They require frequent and costly applications.

The Solution

BanacXin is an innovative biovaccine developed by Innoterra, which works effectively in controlling TR4, while offering a range of benefits.

  • 100% Natural: BanacXin is entirely natural, containing no harmful chemicals.
  • Safe for Biodiversity: It is safe for biodiversity and does not harm the environment.
  • Promotes Plant Growth: BanacXin promotes plant growth and boosts yield.
  • Versatile Application: It offers versatile proprietary application methods.
  • Effective Against TR4 and Sigatoka: BanacXin can effectively tackle both TR4 and Sigatoka..
  • Allergen-Free: It does not contain any known allergens, ensuring safety for users.

Field Trials and Case Studies

BanacXin’s effectiveness has been demonstrated through extensive field trials and case studies.

BanacXin was field-tested by Innoterra on co-operator farmers’ farms in India and in Philippines for its efficacy in controlling Fusarium wilt in banana plantations disease hotspot areas. In India, with follower population,

Chart 1: Performance of BanacXin treated plants in India.

BanacXin trial showed 71.23 % efficacy (Chart 1, Figure 1) in controlling Fusarium Wilt (Disease Incidence of 3.21% in BanacXin-treated and 11.16% in control, non-treated banana plants, Chart-3). In Philippines, BanacXin trial showed 92.02% efficacy (Chart 2, Figure 2) in controlling FW-TR4 Disease Incidence of 2.27% in BanacXin treated and 28.45% in control, non-treated banana plants, Chart-3).

Chart 2: Performance of BanacXin treated plants in Philippines.

Chart 3: Effective control of Fusarium wilt in banana by BanacXin in India and in Philippines.

BanacXin was also evaluated for its efficacy in controlling Sigatoka and leaf streak or leaf spot diseases in hotspot locations in India and in Philippines on co-operators farms. In India, with new banana plantation, BanacXin trial showed 35.83% efficacy (Chart 1, Figure 2) in controlling Sigatoka in Banana (Disease Incidence of 25.16% in BanacXin-treated and 39.21% in control, non-treated banana plants, Chart-4). In Philippines, with follower population, BanacXin trial showed 40.67% efficacy (Chart 2, Figure 2) in controlling Sigatoka (Disease Incidence of 22.18% in BanacXin treated and 32.8% in control, non-treated banana plants, Chart-4). It is important to note here that disease incidence and not disease severity was taken as parameter, thus even plant with having marginal symptom on single leaf was counted as positive. At disease progression and severity reduction level, BanacXin was found to effectively stop Sigatoka disease and severity progression in 85-88% plants of treated population (unrecorded observation). Therefore, BanacXin treatment was found far more effective and natural solution for devastating Sigatoka in our field trial populations.

Chart 4: Effective control of Sigatoka disease in banana by BanacXin in India and in Philippines.

In interesting observations, BanacXin was found to enhance the recovery of heavily Fusarium wilt infested, death-prone banana plants. In field trial with such plants in Innoterra Philippines farms at Bantacan, the pseudo-stem injection treatment of BanacXin showed recovery and revival of 75% of almost died plants (Chart-2, Figure 2).
 BanacXin was found to have particularly good influence on plant growth parameters (pseudo-stem height, girth and leaf numbers) and yield (13.85% increase in average bunch weight, Chart 1). In our field trials in India with both follower population and new plantation, BanacXin was found to enhance the plant growth parameters (Charts 5 & 6) and thus was responsible for enhanced yield and farmer income.

Chart 5: Positive Influence of BanacXin on Plant growth and health (F1 population)

Chart 6: Positive Influence of BanacXin on Plant growth and health (New Plantation)

Summary of trial findings

Fusarium Wilt (TR4) Control

  • In India, BanacXin showed 71.23% efficacy in controlling Fusarium Wilt, reducing disease incidence from 11.16% to 3.21%.
  • In the Philippines, it demonstrated 92.02% efficacy, reducing disease incidence from 28.45% to 2.27%.

Sigatoka Control

  • In India, BanacXin exhibited 35.83% efficacy in controlling Sigatoka.
  • In the Philippines, it demonstrated 40.67% efficacy in controlling Sigatoka.

Application Guidelines

The application method for BanacXin is versatile as its water soluble, agri-compatible and the detailed guidelines are available to the progressive growers with one-to-one customized interaction through our agronomist experts.

Economic Impact

The economic impact of BanacXin deployment is substantial for the banana farmer community and the industry as a whole:

  • In disease-free situations, a banana grower can harvest 25-30 tons of fruit in one crop cycle.
  • A banana farmer typically spends US$ 625 in India and US$ 1500 in the Philippines per acre on chemical fungicides and pesticides.
  • BanacXin costs will range from US$ 120-130 per acre, resulting in significant cost savings
  • BanacXin adopters recorded 4.6 times higher net income compared to non-adopters; average income per farmer was ~2100$ in India and ~3800$ in Philippines
  • The eco-friendly nature of BanacXin also saves on chemical costs and promotes sustainable farming practices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, BanacXin is a revolutionary vaccine solution that not only combats Fusarium Wilt TR4 (Panama Disease) but also promotes sustainable and eco-friendly banana cultivation practices. With the potential to enhance yield, improve plant health, and increase farmer income, BanacXin is a game-changing solution for the global banana industry.

For more information and adoption of BanacXin, please contact Innoterra, the pioneer in sustainable agricultural solutions.

About Innoterra BioScience

The purpose of Innoterra BioScience is to harness bioscience for developing and offering novel sustainable agritech solutions that can mitigate pests, diseases, climate change affecting the horticulture supply chain and usher higher income for the farmers. We provide farmers with innovative biologicals and improved varieties to help reduce disease incidence and improve crop yield. Our technology enabled solution InnoSoli® is the digital app available freely on Google Playstore that provides farmers with a single point of access to curated curriculums needed to farm more successfully, supported by an intuitive learning journey that helps them improving quality and prosperity.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr. Anup Karwa, Director, Innoterra BioScience, Innoterra. They reflect his personal viewpoints.

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