Bayer bets on new solution for Costa Rica's nematode woes
With Costa Rica's banana industry torn between substantial damages from nematodes and the negative environmental effects of fighting them, Bayer CropScience is hoping a "green band" solution that keeps roots clean with low toxicity will be approved in the Central American country.
Speaking during the International Banana Congress, National Banana Corporation research director Dr. Jorge Sandoval highlighted the challenges presented by the worms, which are practically invisible to the eye and attack banana roots, reducing productivity by 30-50%
"They are a serious problem because roots are vital for the nutrition of the plant, and being attacked by this pathogen compromises the quality of the bunches they produce, and in critical conditions this can impact production of the crop," Sandoval said.
A release from the congress said the problem was comparatively larger for Costa Rica than other countries in the region, as it doesn't have the suppressive soils needed to lighten the pest's effects. Due to the effects of using pesticides on natural surroundings, Bayer has investigated a more environmentally-friendly solution.
"Verango® is the first systematic green band nematicide in Central America and the Caribbean discovered in Costa Rica, which in addition to having low toxicity, increases the health of roots for periods of up to 150 days," said Bayer CropScience business development manager Álvaro Segura.
The application of traditional nematicides is around three times per year, however Bayer claims Verango may only need to be used twice a year depending on plantation conditions, bringing time savings and cutting costs.
"If two application cycles are undertaken per year, the use of a green band product can be combined with a biological product, so that the impact on the soil and the environment will be minimal," Segura added, highlighting the product had received a good level of acceptance in Guatemala and Honduras, along with excellent performance.
Bayer expects the product's registration will be approved and that it will be sold commercially in Costa Rica this year.
Last year, Costa Rica exported 108 million boxes of bananas with a value of US$411 million, with the European Union and the United States as the top two destinations, purchasing 49.4% and 42.9% of exports respectively.