Bananas are favored by consumers around the world. Alas, the plant is also susceptible to infections. Recently, plant diseases have caused problems to banana production in Africa. Bugs such as banana Xanthomonas and banana bunchy top disease occurred on the continent.
The most recent threat is the Fusarium oxyspurum f. sp. Cubense (Foc) or TR4 where it was first discovered on a farm in Mozambique. Previously, the disease was confined to Asia, but has spread to Africa and Latin America. Although it is not new to the continent, having been first reported in West Africa in 1924 and in 1951 when it invaded Tanzania, the strain is now widely spread in banana-producing countries in the continent.
A consortium of African and international institutions and researchers developed a series of interventions. Part of the response included targeted awareness campaigns and training. The use of resistant varieties and integrated pest management were also employed. On a global scale, the race is on to discover a solution. For example, Australian scientists came up with a genetically modified (GM) banana that is resistant to the disease. But GM products are heavily regulated in Europe, it’s still a long way before these types of fruits will hit the supermarkets.