Global response urged to prevent spread of banana disease

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A banana plant affected by Fusarium wilt disease among a field of healthy plants in the Philippines. FAO@PHOTO

A new strain of fungus that destroys the world's most popular banana variety is posing a serious threat to economic welfare and food security in developing countries.

This warning has come from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is calling for global effort to prevent the spread of the deadly Fusarium wilt disease in bananas.

FAO says that plant scientists have been warning for several years that the Cavendish bananas have fallen victim to a new strain of the fungus causing wilting and mass plant die offs.

According to FAO, Tropical Race 4 or TR4 of the Fusarium wilt fungus is considered a top threat to global banana production worth $36-billion, which provides a source of income or food to some 400 million people.

FAO and a group of international experts have agreed on the framework for a global programme on Fusarium wilt.

It will focus on preventing future outbreaks, managing existing cases, and strengthening international collaboration and coordination among institutions, researchers, governments and producers.

The agency estimates that $47 million is needed to tackle the disease, including by providing swift on-the-ground assistance to countries facing new outbreaks.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 1’35″

 

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