Black Sigatoka Disease and Agricultural Research in Brazil and Colombia

A new article titled: “Same Disease—different research strategies: Bananas and Black Sigatoka in Brazil and Colombia” was recently published in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. This article raises the question in what aspects research on banana diseases, in particular black Sigatoka, and current practices and innovations in disease control differ in Brazil and Colombia. We show how state-producer-researcher networks have developed divergent research trajectories (different research agendas, different research priorities, different research-state-producer networks, and so on) to the same disease (black Sigatoka).

Below a summary of the paper:

Fungal dise030ase epidemics have the potentialto bring about drastic innovations. However, in the case of the Black Sigatoka (Mycosphaerella fijiensis) fungus in bananas, producers and international traders are still awaiting a breakthrough in crop protection research. Using the cases of Brazil and Colombia, this paper examines different agricultural research responses to the disease. Brazil opted to replace susceptible varieties with resistant ones, whereas in Colombia chemical control by private actors dominated. We argue that these different responses result from at least three interrelated factors. First, producer type—smallholder farmers or larger export-oriented plantations—influences the setting of crop protection research priorities. Second, a central, state-led role versus a private sector response influences the size and time perspective of research activities. Third, domestic markets with multiple crop varieties versus Cavendish-only export markets leads to differences in control practices and research responses. From this case study, we argue that the currently proposed innovation systems approaches in international agricultural research should adopt a broader perspective that assesses how research is interwoven with agrarian dynamics, commodity chains and particular state roles to elucidate how state–producer–researcher networks perform disease control and where and how to find new solutions.


Cordoba, Diana and Kees Jansen. Same Disease—different research strategies: Bananas and Black Sigatoka in Brazil and Colombia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. Early view.