Updated 08:37 PM EST, Sat, Jan 22, 2022

Banana Fungus Could Greatly Affect Fruit Production in the Americas

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A banana fungus affecting fruit production in Asia is feared to enter the Americas and have a "devastating" impact on production across various regions.

Independent reported that a wipeout of crops in the American continent is possible due to the severe damaging effect of this fungus, called Tropical Race 4.

It claimed that there was notable damage in the Philippines, which alarmed growers in the Americas. No reports of the fungus hitting the continent have been noted.

International coordinator for a group of banana growers and farmers in the world, Alistair Smith, said that the potential for devastation from this fungus is high.

With the dangers of this banana disease, global plant production expert Gert Kema mentioned in the Independent report that there is a pressing need for a variety of a banana that can resist a fungus like this.

It was noted that one of the most affected banana variety is the Cavendish banana, which is a famous kind in many countries in Europe, United Kingdom, North America and Asia.

"I try to avoid dramatizing this story but look at what happened previously with the Gros Michel," Kema told BBC.

The latter was a popular banana variety, which was famous during the 19th century. However, it got wiped out by the Panama disease, which affected all banana plantations in South and Central America.

 It has become extinct since then.

Kema also explained that the world would be faced with a serious issue if the same scenario happens.

However, he said that the possible phase out of this variety of banana will not happen in a week or two.

"This is going to take some time but that time is extremely pressing; we have nothing to replace the Cavendish right now," Kema added.

At present, BBC reported that about 100,000 hectares of Cavendish banana plantations have already been affected by the fungus, and is expected to get worse if the disease will not be stopped.

CNN highlighted that Cavendish bananas have no genetic diversity -- they are the only variety planted by growers yearly.

It claimed that once the plant it infected, the fungus can infect all of the bananas of that variety.

Asked for a solution to this, Kema told BBC that the epidemic should be contained, though he claimed that this would require a lot of effort.

The other option is to develop a resistant variety, which can be explored through various breeding programs of the growers.

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