Colombia is the world’s fourth-largest banana exporter. According to an industry leader, it has maintained production and exports of the yellow fruit to its largest buyers, despite the twin threats of COVID-19 and Fusarium R4T.
Fungus fusarium tropical type 4, cause of the so-called Panama disease, or wilt, which attacks banana varieties including the Cavendish and the plantain, was detected last July in the northern La Guajira province, where 190 hectares of the fruit were eradicated. The outbreak forced producers to implement strict controls to stop the fungus from moving to other banana crops.
“The banana industry is the only agricultural sector struck by two outbreaks at once. One pandemic is called fusarium tropical type 4 and the other is called coronavirus,” Colombian Banana Growers Association President Emerson Aguirre told Reuters.
The challenge in 2020 is to maintain production and exports at similar levels to last year, Aguirre added.