Colombian banana tree with fruit and hanging blossom.
Latin American banana growers are scrambling to respond to the arrival in the region of a strain of one of the world’s most destructive banana fungi. The strain, Tropical race 4 (TR4), was found in northern Colombia’s department of La Guajira, the Colombian Institute of Agriculture and Livestock (ICA) reported in August, and was located on a total of 185 hectares (457 acres) in seven plantations. TR4 is a particularly worrisome strain of the fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, because it affects Cavendish bananas. The Cavendish variety accounts for nearly 50 billion tons, or nearly half, of world annual banana production and virtually all banana exports to Europe and the United States. Until TR4 was found in Colombia, it had not been observed in the Western Hemisphere, even though it has decimated banana plantations in other parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia. “We are declaring a national emergency... [Log in to read more]