These tasted best, these lived longer, these were more resilient and didn’t need unnatural ripening. These were simply better fruit because they belonged to a different species or cultivar in banana parlance.

It was named Gros Michel and it stayed the world’s export banana until 1965.

That year, it was confirmed commercially wiped out /extinct due to the Panama disease, a fungal disease that started out from Central America and quickly circulated to most of the world’s commercial banana plantations, leaving no other alternative but to burn them down.

The banana industry was in a serious crisis and had to look for possible replacements. It stayed with the Cavendish cultivar, which was deemed a substandard product but carried the honour of being immune to the disease. It was immediately accepted by banana growers globally.

At The Moment, the Cavendish is a widespread common foodstuff, much like a Big Mac: supermarket bananas are pretty much indistinguishable anywhere you buy them.

That’s for the reason that they have almost no genetic diversity — the plants are all replicas of one another. The Cavendish is a monoculture, which implies it’s the only type that most commercial growers plant every year. Which is also wherefore it is now under danger itself, from a new strain of the Panama disease. And once it infects one plant, it can infect them all.

Presently on the verge of extinction

Fifty years on, one of the most popular commercial foods in the world is once again under threat.

SOURCE: The World

A lethal plant fungus has started to infect banana crops in a region experts have long feared would be especially susceptible to disease.

The Colombian agriculture and livestock Authority (ICA) has confirmed a national state of emergency after a new strain of the Panama disease (Tropical Race 4, which is known in the science world as TR4), was identified at several banana farms on the country’s coastal region. Since Central and South America are home to the world’s biggest markets for growing and exporting bananas, the effect of a pervasive disease would be injurious to the fruit’s global supply.

If TR4 is not included, it has the capacity to erase out most large banana farms which mostly grow one type of banana: the Cavendish. The Cavendish accounts for nearly half of bananas grown worldwide and nearly all of the bananas imported to the U.S., Europe and the U.K.

It’s a sweet-tempered, somewhat bland banana. While bananas cultivated in infected soil are not dangerous for humans to eat, banana plants that have been infected will stop bearing fruit, so as fewer plants flourish, it will become more expensive and more challenging for the U.S. to import bananas.

According to researchers, the Panama disease is not the first time banana growers have been faced with a dire situation.

SOURCE: The strain times

In 2016, the disease made global headlines after a group of scientists published a study demonstrating how rapidly the disease had dispersed from Indonesia to Taiwan, China, the rest of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The damage caused by the disease has already cost those nations $400 million to date — and that was before it reached the world’s biggest banana-growing region.

According to researchers, both the ICA and local Colombian farms are doing a good job at containing the diseased crops. However, TR4 is exceptionally infectious among commercially-grown Cavendish bananas since they’re all clones, so once a crop is infected, there’s no way to protect it and the infection will circulate quickly.

A prospective saviour, say researchers through selective propagation that is a different species than the Cavendish that will produce a new variety of bananas. However, developing a plant that can tolerate the climate and topography of South America, as well as mimic the appearance of a banana most people love, may take many, many years. And even then, it may perhaps not taste precisely like the fruit we know at present.

SOURCE: Agric wa gov au

Leave a Reply