Fears of a world banana shortage grow as Colombia declares national emergency after finding destructive fungus in soil
The hit of the 1920s, “Yes, we do not have bananas,” was written after the scarcity of popular fruits.
Now the song threatens to become a reality again, as a devastating disease devastates the world’s largest plantations.
Colombia declared a national emergency after the discovery of a destructive fungus in its soil.
Colombia has declared a national emergency after a destructive fungus was found across nearly 180 hectares of soil used to grow bananas in the northeastern province of La Guajira
Since the 1990s, a fungus called Panama disease has spread to Asia, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Wherever it is, commercial growth has stopped.
The consolation was that America, the largest producer, had remained intact.
And now, the Fusarium type 4 organism (TR4) has been detected on nearly 180 hectares in the northeastern province of La Guajira.
The situation is so serious that imports of the five billion bananas that arrive every year in Britain could be stopped.
All grown bananas are a variety called Cavendish. Due to their lack of genetic diversity, they are threatened with extinction.
It is hoped that genetic modification and the use of wild varieties can help find a solution.
The fungus could halt the imports of the five billion bananas that come to the UK every year
Banana is Colombia’s third largest agricultural export, while neighboring Ecuador is the world’s largest producer.
The Cavendish was first grown in the warm homes of Chatsworth Manor in Derbyshire, which belonged to the Cavendish family, better known as Dukes of Devonshire.
For decades, he was in commercial farming after Gros Michel or Big Mike in second place. It was not the choice of commercial breeders – it was another banana, Gros Michel or Big Mike.
But in the early 1920s, Gros Michel fell victim to the first known panama disease that erased it.
Cavendish was resistant to this strain and has contributed to the success of the industry for decades.