After Asia, Latin America, a region where about 70 per cent of the world’s banana exports are grown, could be next to be affected
A rampant banana disease also known as the “HIV of banana plantations” is threatening the world’s banana crop, warned a report released by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Released on Monday, the report says that the fungal disease recently spread from Asia, where it’s already caused significant losses, to Africa and the Middle East. The FAO believes Latin America, a region where about 70 per cent of the world’s banana exports are grown, could be next to be affected by the disease called Fusarium wilt TR, or Panama disease.
The international agency has also urged countries to focus on monitoring, reporting and prevention of one of the world’s ‘most destructive banana diseases’. Training technical officers, producers and farm workers in disease identification, preventive measures including quarantines and raising awareness are a few other recommendations that have been made by the agency.
According to FAOSTAT, a data gathering agency of FAO, banana is the eighth most important food crop in the world and the fourth most important food crop among the world’s least-developed countries. “FAO and its partners, including the World Banana Forum (WBF), the scientific community and the banana industry are among those making efforts to increase awareness of the inherent threat of TR4,” says the report.
What is Fusarium wilt?
Fusarium wilt is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc). The disease is soil-borne and the fungus can remain viable for decades. Once the disease is present in a field, it cannot be fully controlled by currently available practices and fungicides. The best way to fight the disease is to prevent its spread, which includes avoiding movement of diseased plant materials and infected soil particles.
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