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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01048

Coordination as management response to the spread of a global plant disease: a case study in a major Philippine banana production area

  • 1University of the Philippines Mindanao, Philippines
  • 2Wageningen School of Social Sciences, Netherlands

An integrative management approach to the spread and emergence of global plant diseases, such as the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense Tropical Race 4 (Foc TR4), entails a combination of technical measures and the responsiveness and awareness of area-specific constellations supporting conditions conducive to interactions and coordination among organizations and actors with different resources and diverse interests. Responses to banana diseases are mostly studied through technical and epidemiological lenses and reflect a bias to the export industry. Some authors, however, indicate that cross-sector collaboration is crucial in responding to a disease outbreak. Earlier studies on the outbreak of diseases and natural disasters suggest that shared cognition and effective partnerships increased the success rate of response. Hence, it is important not to focus exclusively on the impacts of a pathogen at farm or field level and to shift attention to how tasks and knowledge are coordinated and shared. This paper aims to detect whether and how Foc TR4 is a driver of coordination. The case study focuses on the interactions between a variety of banana producers and among a range of public and private actors in the leading production area of export banana in the Philippines. The analysis identifies distinct forms of coordination emerging in the context of three networks responding to Foc TR4, which underlie shared capacity to handle and understand the spread of a global plant disease. The research is based on qualitative key informant interviews and document analysis and on observations of instructive events in 2014-2017. Analysis of the composition and actions developed in three networks leads to distinguishing three theory-driven forms of coordination: rule-based, cognition-based and skills-based. The combination of these three forms constitutes the possibility of a collaborative community, which conditions the implementation of an integrative management approach to Foc TR4.

Keywords: Fusarium Wilt, southeast asia, Cross-sector partnerships, plant disease management, Foc TR4

Received: 10 Dec 2018; Accepted: 29 Jul 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Montiflor and Vellema. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Marilou O. Montiflor, University of the Philippines Mindanao, Davao, Philippines, momontiflor@up.edu.ph