TR4 solution creator seeks commercial deal -

Creator of 'proven TR4 preventive and curative solution' eyes commercial partnership in coming weeks

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Creator of 'proven TR4 preventive and curative solution' eyes commercial partnership in coming weeks

The scientist behind what is being hailed as a revolutionary product that controls and mitigates the devastating banana wilt fungus, Fusarium Oxysporum cubense aka Tropical Race 4 (TR4), says he is planning to secure a commercial partner in the next two months for a collaboration and fast and furious global roll-out.

Jack Bracewell, president of Salveo Inc, has developed Tectus Matrix, a patent-pending, broad-spectrum natural and organic fungicide and bactericide liquid matrix. 

Tectus Matrix has successfully completed a 25-month banana field trials in Ecuador on Black Leaf Spot Disease and 12 other fungi and 2 bacteria.

In 2019 and 2020 Salveo made for testing against turfgrass, rice blast, and FOC TR4 by a PhD led team at Texas A&M University (TAMU).  After successful in vitro bioassays on TR4, more tests were performed in TAMU’s penthouse greenhouses, including a randomized block design of in vivo studies, which were completed in July 2020.

Treatment 2 Preventive Dissection TAMU

These trials showed that Salveo’s product, applied through a drenching technique, worked as both a curative product (with the highest infection rate of 7%) and as a preventative product (with the highest infection rate of 3%).

Bracewell told that Salveo's next step is to partner with an agrochemical company that has a global infrastructure already in place. He expects a deal to be made within the next 6 to 8 weeks, with more testing and then a global ramp-up of production shortly after that.

"It's going to be the agricultural story of the century for the company that works with us, allowing that company to say, “we saved the bananas'," he said.

A "game-changing product" in the fight against TR4

TR4, also known as Panama disease, has been described by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as the most "serious plant disease.” It affects the Cavendish (99% of global banana exports) and other varieties that globally represent 5.6 million hectares of bananas.

Signs of banana plant pathology Fusarium Wilt in the Philippines.

Source: FAO 

TR4, a soil-borne fungus, is common in many parts of Asia and Africa, and more recently it has spread to Australia's Queensland region and Latin America in 2019  ̶  where it was detected for the first time in Northern Colombia a year ago. 

Once the disease is present in a field, it cannot be controlled effectively by currently available chemical treatment, with quarantine being the most effective means of control of this disease. 

Countless efforts are being made to address the challenge of TR4 on behalf of diverse stakeholders from all over the world, many of which involve the creation of new varieties - including GMO and cross-bred cultivars - and a search is on for chemical products.

Bracewell says; Tectus Matrix is a sustainable and natural product that doesn't pose a danger to human health or the environment. He also explains that it is a far quicker and more cost-effective solution than varietal reconversion, which he believes is a " ginormous multi-million dollar problem just to replace all the plants and land".

"As far as I know, we've got the only treatment in the world for Tropical Race 4 and I have tasted it many times… that’s how non-toxic it is," he said. "It's a game-changer.” Jack does not recommend others to drink any fungicidal products.

"Our tagline 'Changing the World… One Farm at a Time' is not just a marketing line, it's something that our team believes in. And we believe that we need to completely rebuild the way that we handle agriculture with more sustainable practices. We need to educate farmers on how to sustainably control disease and to use alternative products."

Jack also emphasized that the product would be profitable for all those involved, and anticipates that governments or international organizations would be able to support farmers to be able to access the product, given bananas' importance as a globally top-five commodity.

Global partner to be announced

Bracewell and his team at Salveo are now searching and are in active talks with some key companies to partner with.  A proper and suitable partner is essential to bring the product to the banana industry around the world. He said they are looking at a range of potential companies  -   not just the Big Four (Syngenta, Bayer AG, DowDupont, and BASF).

Numerous criteria are being assessed, including a company's global infrastructure, flexibility, sustainability practices and credentials, resources for patent protection, as well as R&D capabilities.

Bracewell says: "I believe that there's possibly another dozen formulas in the patent itself and there may be another 20 or 30 products."

The ability to get the product into the most affected countries (17 to date) is also imperative. Since TR4 is an epidemic, gaining access to infected plantations by the governments for treatment may be easier than working with regulators

"TR4 is like Covid-19 in that the best solution to stop the spread is to quarantine, however not all farmers can afford to do that.  Many farmers, for example in Africa, have abandoned their plantations making TR4 spread rampantly.  So I'm looking for a partner that has the financial wherewithal and the political networks to partner with to be successful," he said.

In terms of the timeline for making a deal, Bracewell said he does not plan to wait around. "This is a pandemic in agriculture and I want to make a deal in the next eight weeks, and I will.  If the big Agro can't work that fast, then they'll miss out on the opportunity for a new revenue stream and for history-making public relations," he said.

After executing documents, he said that within three weeks, he can ramp up a production facility and be producing 250 gallons a day with just one system and make live field tests on TR4 as a preventative, curative, restorative and maybe a foliar application.

"We are prepared, the tech is completely scalable and can be implemented quickly," Bracewell said.

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