The Tropical Race 4 strain of the Fusarium fungus (Fusarium TR4) is the most critical menace to banana production. With an export value of more than USD 3,6 billion per year, bananas are the largest single agricultural export of Ecuador. The disease not only could affect – and even wipe out – entire farms, affecting thousands of producers and families that depend on this product to make a living; but it could also disrupt the whole value chain.
Taking an initiative
Banco Pichincha, our partner bank in Ecuador, has made a strategic commitment to support the development of the food & agri sector in Ecuador. Supported by Rabo Partnerships and Bayer, Banco Pichincha made it their goal to deepen their knowledge and expertise in the F&A field, and to convey that knowledge to their extensive network of offices, executives and officers.
In this context, it was natural for Banco Pichincha to look for a strategy that could help local farmers, especially the small ones, to avoid the devastation TR4 has the potential to cause. In 2021, after the TR4 strain had been detected in a half-hectare banana plantation in neighbouring country Peru, the bank recognized the need to take steps immediately. Leveraging Bayer’s training program, BayG.A.P., the bank started an initiative which has helped farmers learn about the TR4 disease, how to prevent it and what steps to take to control it if detected on their farms.
Protecting the livelihoods of Ecuadorian banana farmers
Encouraged by Rabo Partnerships, Banco Pichincha joined the Global Alliance Against TR4 lead by IICA (the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture), GLOBALG.A.P., Bayer and other institutions sharing the same goal: preventing the spread of the disease into Ecuador and giving farmers the know-how and technical knowledge to deal with the pandemic. Together, the members of the Alliance designed and implemented a plan to strengthen the knowledge and build the capacity of those involved in the banana production value chain.
The initiative of Banco Pichincha and Bayer included activities such as enabling the bank’s customers to access the BayG.A.P. training on biosecurity measures against TR4, sending text messages to farmers reminding them of the key actions to implement on their fields, and creating awareness through a regional radio campaign. In total, over 600 banana producers from the El Oro province of Ecuador, near Peru, were contacted. Starting in August 2021, Banco Pichincha has sent out 14 text messages, 2 mailings, images and audio with recommendations about how to prevent the spread of the disease. In addition, 6 local radio stations transmitted additional information weekly in August and September, reaching over 320.000 people.
Ecuador is the world's largest banana exporting country. With this campaign, Banco Pichincha and Bayer made an important step to protect the livelihood of Ecuadorian banana farmers.
Connecting our networks
The success of the cooperation between Banco Pichincha and Bayer demonstrates the importance of connecting our network to support farmers. The collaboration between our partner bank, Banco Pichincha, and Bayer, a client of Rabobank and our strategic partner, was accelerated by Rabo Partnerships, and ultimately resulted in a campaign protecting banana plantations from the devastating TR4 disease. Banco Pichincha took this opportunity to increase the outreach to their rural customers, protecting their source of income and improving their living conditions, benefitting from the knowledge offered by strategic partnerships.
BayG.A.P. is a service program from Bayer which supports farmers worldwide in getting certified and connected food value chain. It is an important contribution to promoting good agricultural practices around the world, benefiting farmers, food chain partners, and consumers. BayG.A.P. follows a flexible approach offering training, tailored farm advice, and verification support to farmers so they can access local and international markets.