Bedridden Bananas?!

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has issued a formal warning to the world- step-up your game when it comes to quite possibly the most destructive Banana disease the globe has EVER seen! The disease carries the name: Fusarium wilt… wilt recently spread its tentacles from Asia to Africa, the Middle-East, and is now menacing Latin American countries.

The particular race of the infector is commonly known by its namesake, Panama disease (TR4). The disease is posing a serious threat to the worlds Banana production machine; in turn, it is affecting the livelihood of the Globe’s most impoverished people, from country- to- country, who rely on the crop- not only for its nutritional value, but as a source of income.

You see, according to The United Nations News Centre, Bananas are the 8th most important food crop and the 4th most important when it is measured amongst the world’s least-developed countries; those countries populous was estimated by the UN & The World Bank at 878.2 Million people in 2012.

Bananas are quite the vital food source and Fusarium could have a significant impact on growers, traders and the families who depend on the banana industry as a lifeline. The soil-borne disease TR4 is derivative of  a fungus known as, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense or Foc, which does threaten potential massive destruction, by which much of the world’s banana crop would become bedridden. TR4 actively infects the Cavendish banana varieties, those are the type of banana dominating global trade and local consumption at markets. The UN’s APB has made sure to quench public fear for banana consumption- despite grave damage to the banana plant and to production plantations… the fruit itself remains edible! It is the soil TR4 infects, which remains infected for decades.

The call to action comes in the form of raising awareness, from nation- to- nation, where appropriate quarantine measures are imperative to minimizing the spread of the disease. It is now the role of international organizations and individuals alike to take all measures necessary to preserve a crop, that is extraordinarily vulnerable- “irrigation and drainage systems, containers, tools or visitors; and preventive measures, including quarantines, the use of disease-free planting materials, prevention of movement of infected soil and planting materials into and out of farms, and disinfection of vehicles.” –The United Nations News Centre