The Grapevine

Banana Fungus Spreads In Colombia: What You Need To Know

Just last week, it has been confirmed that banana plantations all across Colombia has been affected by a very serious type of plant fungus, one that could put the fruit (and its many plantations) in serious danger.

Banana Fungus

The fungus in question, named Fusarium oxysporum, is no stranger for experts. Decades ago, it decided to pay the tropical country Philippines a visit, impacting the country’s many banana plantations and farmers, even spreading to other fruits for a time. However, organic banana production now appears to be in a serious situation now that the Panama disease (or fusarium wilt) has come back to leave detrimental effects on the growth of bananas.

The recent announcement by the Colombian authorities seem to reflect this as well, with them declaring a national emergency, stating that for every infected banana plant, all other banana plants around it get destroyed as well.

As a result, scientists now believe that producing grocery store bananas from here on in would require either genetic engineering or cross pollination. Still, the disease is believed to be spreading slowly, holding out hope that researchers can find a viable solution to stop it before it is too late. Nevertheless, this would be no easy task for anyone involved or affected.

Plant Infection

First seen in the 1990s, infecting other countries, researchers from Colombia believe that the fusarium fungus called TR4 is what’s behind the banana plantation problem. It has reportedly invaded countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia and China before, and was even spotted in East Africa some five years ago.

A soil pathogen type of fungus, scientists have confirmed that it’s quite difficult to control despite numerous preventive measures, and is not affected by either fungicides or fumigants. It’s also believed to have inhabited the Colombian soil now for at least a year, before its effects started showing.

According to the authorities, this is the reason why at the moment, stopping it looks impossible.

Still, there is some good news to be found, since scientists believe that the fungus could still take years to spread to other countries and continents.

banana Bananas are known for many health benefits, such as helping manage blood pressure, supporting digestion and preventing asthma and cancer. Pixabay

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