Bananas are one of the world’s most common fruit. According to experts, 100 billion bananas are consumed every year and the Cavendish banana type make up 95%.
This specie is usually resistant but a new fungus has surfaced that attacks this variety and quickly spreads throughout this commercial crop.
Although chemicals can help, scientists have discovered a way to solve this problem. The solution is to grow the plant without using soil.
A virus infested Banana tree
The first set of soil-less grown bananas is ready for harvest this week as part of an association between the Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Chiquita Brands International.
The fungus which dwells in the soil is affecting banana plantations all over the world.
This soil dwelling fungus wiped out the Gros Michel banana which was the most widely consumed in the 50s hence making the Cavendish variety the most dominant.
The TR4 strain, which was identified in Taiwan in the 1960s has spread throughout south-east Asia and Australia.
The industry’s main concern is that it will reach Latin America and wipe out the farms which provide three-quarters of the world’s banana exports.
According to reports, Gert Kema, a leading banana expert and the head of tropical phytopathology at Wageningen University, was quoted as saying, “core of our strategy is to diversify banana production.”
The fungus spreads through soil movements due to activities of workers or machinery, among other things. This affects the roots of the banana trees, shriveling the fruit.
Growing bananas in a greenhouse on nutrients and rockwool, made from Basalt rock and chalk, will insulate the plants from disease, the article said.
Several efforts are also being carried out by private companies or research organizations to either eliminate the disease or cure it. Many of these efforts are focused on developing a disease-resistant variety.
Presently, there are no available solutions besides trying to prevent the transfer of infested soil, infected plants and contaminated materials to clean areas.
Source:The Guardian Newspaper