A deadly fungus may soon wipe out bananas completely. The killer fungus that has been affecting banana plantation in Southeast Asia for 30 years has now reached the shores of Latin America, known for being a prime global banana export market. Last week, the Colombian Agricultural Institute confirmed that the fungus – a strain of Fusarium oxysporum called Tropical Race 4 (TR4) – was found in plantations in the north of the country. Following which Colombia declared a national state of emergency following as a warning to those taking care of banana plantations. If the fungus spreads, bananas may become extinct. Candida Auris: Scientists Shocked as ‘Unbeatable’ Fungus Spreads Globally; 3 Reasons Why the Superbug is Bad News!
After an array of tests that came out to be positive, ICA, the Colombian agriculture and livestock authority on Thursday confirmed the presence of so-called Panama disease Tropical Race 4 on banana farms in the Caribbean coastal region. Green Banana Benefits: 5 Reasons Why You Should Include Raw Bananas In Your Diet.
The fungus has the potential to affect bananas as a food source and its export. Panama disease Tropical Race 4—or TR4—is an infection of the banana plant by a fungus of the genus Fusarium. While these infected bananas may no affect humans, such trees may eventually stop bearing fruits. The fungus was first identified in the early 1990s in Taiwan. While it remained confined to Southeast Asia and Australia for a long, the fungus was also detected in both the Middle East and Africa in 2013.
Following the confirmation, ICA is planning to increase sanitary control measures at border points, airports and ports. Government is trying to implement better biosecurity measures to help small and medium level farmers. Monitoring the situation, they will conduct surveillance flights and on-the-ground inspections. There is no treatment for TR4 which kills plants by affecting their vascular systems. Being the fourth largest exporter of bananas in Latin America, Colombia makes sales of USD 866.2 million. Banana plantations cover roughly 50,000 hectares of land in the country.