“Panama disease” threatened by the resurgence of bananas


«Панамская болезнь» вновь угрожает бананам

Mankind may be left without a smoothie with bananas for Breakfast, the sandwiches with peanut butter and bananas for lunch, no fruit cuts with bananas for dinner. Bananas the second time in modern history may disappear completely from the sales due to “Panama disease”, which caused a rotting banana plantations, reports the Nypost.

Fungal infection already in Latin America

8 Aug Colombian agricultural Institute confirmed the discovery on the plantations of the fungus parasite called Fusarium (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense). It is a fungal infection Tropical Race 4 (TR4), or “Panama disease”, stop that can’t even pesticides. In this regard, in Colombia declared a state of emergency. Crops of bananas, where they found a fungus that will burn, not to give it to spill over into neighboring plantation.

“If you don’t act now, then off the shelves in stores worldwide may disappear bananas. Unripe Cavendish variety may degrade under the influence of the fungus that causes “the Panama disease” as the cultivar Gros Michel in his time,” — said the website, citing a representative of the University of Exeter.


The heyday of the banana industry came in the second half of the XIX century. With the invention of refrigeration units made possible their transportation to the regions with a temperate climate. By the beginning of XX century, the business in this commodity began to flourish. With a light hand by O. Henry there was even a new term “banana Republic”. They were called economically weak States, which depend entirely on the export of bananas. Peak production occurred in the period from 1961 to 2001: it increased by more than three and a half times. Plans to increase production then was not even disturbed by the spread of “Panama disease”. She destroyed entire plantations that cultivated banana variety Gros Michel. Switched to the Cavendish, which was resistant to the fungus, but now with the emergence of a new strain, even he could not resist.

In 1989 in Taiwan for the first time in modern history faced with the “Panama disease”. For 30 years, a deadly fungus destroyed banana plantations in Southeast Asia – Lebanon, India, and Israel. In 1997, a fungal infection that struck the North of Australia and soon captured the northeast mainland of the country – Queensland. It has now spread to Latin America, where bananas are exported to other countries of the world.

Without the antidote?

“The Panama disease” remains poorly understood by scientists. They can’t even say exactly how it spreads. They suggest that dissemination happens with contaminated with agricultural equipment or transfer on the sole of the Shoe traveling the world tourists and relocating in search of better earnings of employees. She can “live” on the sidelines and not appear for years. As soon as you begin to cultivate them bananas, the fungus parasite gets along with the water in the plant roots and deprive it of all nutrients.

Scientists still can not determine the source of the spread of “Panama disease”. Without seeing the specific measures to prevent it, farmers struggling with her own methods. Some burn crops after the detection of dangerous fungus and other quarantine on their land, not letting the transport and workers without prior sanitation. Their methods are not helping to stop the epidemic.

Scientists from Exeter University are predicting the imminent spread of “Panama disease” in Latin America.

Will artificial intelligence?

If you do not take action, in the future, favorite all mankind bananas may completely disappear from sale. Maybe it would help edit the genes. Maybe a virus will take control, moving to a new variety by crossing the Cavendish wild, surviving in the world. Perhaps in the fight with the “Panama disease” will help a new instrument created on the basis of artificial intelligence.

Scientists find effective in combating the fungal infection, the use of smartphone applications Tumaini. It was developed by Michael Selvaraj with colleagues from African organizations Bioversity International, the Indian Institute of agriculture and technology (IIAT) and Texas A&M University (USA). It is able to recognize bacterial wilt of banana caused by the fungus Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum, “the Panama disease” black sigatoka etc.

New app helps Tumaini by scanning plant to detect signs of five major diseases in banana and to identify one pest. For effective work it downloaded 20 thousand photos. They show visible signs “banana” diseases and symptoms that indicate a pest. As soon as the farmer will start the app on your smartphone and send it for culture will start scanning and identifying problems by matching with the loaded images. If it finds something, it will automatically create a record with the preservation of geographical coordinates in the database.

App Tumaini has spent in “the field”. It has proven to be highly effective (90%) after the experiments, conducted in Colombia, India, Uganda, China, Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to Sciencedaily with a link to the journal Plant Methods.

The developers hope that the app will help to do business banana farmers and to fight diseases and pests. If in developed countries to find a suitable method of plant protection simply, in countries where income levels are low, not so easy to find descriptions of the symptoms of the disease. To help the second coming Tumaini. The app will provide them with the necessary information, will improve the oversight of culture, will accelerate measures to manage and mitigate, eliminate huge losses from crop failure due to pests.

If banana farmers will widely use Tumaini, then the world’s favorite berry will not disappear from the shelves in stores. Using it, small farmers will not have to change direction. Preventing the outbreak in the Bud, they will cease to incur losses.

So far, the losses from the destruction of banana “Panama disease” millions of dollars (India – 121 million dollars, Taiwan – 253,3 million dollars, Malaysia – 14.1 million dollars).

“КазахЗерно.kz” notes, bananas, as leaders in the caloric content among popular fruits, vegetables and berries help to lose weight. After enduring a 3-7-day diet on bananas, you can lose 3-4 kilograms, improving the skin condition removing toxins from the body and organize the work of the gastrointestinal tract.


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