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From:  Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, NE, Sunday June7, 2015

Banana 2256Banana 1255

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

rhinoceros on coconut

The coconut rhinoceros beetle, named for its curved horn, feeds on the sap of palm trees, eventually killing them. In Hawaii, officials fear the beetle could move on from palm trees to bananas, papayas, sugar cane and other crops. (Sara Lin / ForThe Times)

By Sara Lin
January 24, 2015, 8:56 PM | Reporting from HONOLULU

Visitors flock to the Hawaiian Islands for sun-soaked holidays filled with silky beaches, turquoise water, lush green hillsides — and naked palm trees missing their leafy crowns?.

That possibility has state officials worried because Hawaii’s iconic swaying palm trees are under attack. Their nemesis is the latest in a long line of invasive species to arrive here: the coconut rhinoceros beetle.

Much as the Asian long-horned beetle attacked maple and elm trees on the East Coast, the coconut rhinoceros beetle could devastate Hawaii’s palm trees and move on to bananas, papayas, sugar cane and other crops afterward. Adult beetles burrow into the crowns of palm trees to feed on their sap, damaging developing leaves and eventually killing the trees.

“At this point, eradication is still possible. It’s going to take a long time, but it’s still possible.”- Rob Curtiss, incident commander for Hawaii’s coconut rhinoceros beetle eradication program

Concerns that the thumb-sized pest, named for its curved horn, could hitch a ride to California or Florida and attack thriving palm oil and date industries there have prompted federal and state officials to declare the beetle’s discovery in Honolulu a pest emergency.

One year into the fight — Dec. 23, 2014, was the anniversary of the beetle’s discovery on coconut palms at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — state officials are cautiously optimistic.

“At this point, eradication is still possible. It’s going to take a long time, but it’s still possible,” said Rob Curtiss, incident commander for Hawaii’s coconut rhinoceros beetle eradication program, a joint operation of the U.S. and Hawaii departments of agriculture.

The urgency to address the problem is both cultural and financial. The coconut tree is depicted in the ancient hula, and in some neighborhoods, every other house has a palm tree growing in the front yard.

“If somebody is coming to buy a property in Hawaii, they will expect nice palm trees,” says Curtiss, an entomologist with the plant pest control branch of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture.

Curtiss leads a group of about 40 people charged with eradicating the bug. Field teams check trees, set up traps and monitor mulch piles for signs of beetle larvae. So far, they’ve put up 2,700 beetle traps across Oahu and surveyed more than 100,000 trees.

On a recent Friday, team leaders Chad Goldstein and Zachary Potter headed out on their daily rounds to Iroquois Point, just across the harbor from beetle ground zero at Pearl Harbor. The former military housing community is filled with coconut trees.

The pair scanned the tree tops for leaves that have been snipped in an inverted V-shape — a sign of beetle damage. Most of the affected trees in this community have been tagged and are continually monitored. Less than 100 yards away, Potter spotted two more trees just starting to show damage.

“When we first started coming out here six months ago, none of the trees were damaged,” Potter said. “But now a lot of the coconut trees are just completely torn up. It’s really sad.”

It takes a practiced eye to spot early damage on an otherwise healthy tree, and the habit can be hard to break off duty.

“I’ll be at the beach and find myself staring at coconut trees all afternoon,” Potter said.

The pair continued on their rounds, checking their maps to find the traps, which resemble 4-foot-long black lanterns with a white plastic cup at the bottom. The nocturnal beetles are attracted to the trap by a pheromone lure and the glow of a small solar-powered LED light. When a beetle bumps into the trap, it falls into the cup and can’t escape.

The beetles are native to Southeast Asia and have spread throughout the Pacific. Pictures of beetle-ravaged groves in Guam show barren trunks jutting 40 feet out of the ground like giant twigs.

Studies of Palau in the 1950s showed that half of all palms on the island were killed within 10 years of introduction. A more recent survey in 2006 of infested areas in Malaysia showed that beetles wiped out 67% of palm crops.

Officials suspect the beetle came to Hawaii in air cargo.

Entomologists still haven’t developed an effective pesticide to kill the beetle and its Vienna sausage-sized larvae. Chemicals used successfully in Southeast Asia aren’t approved for use in the U.S. A virus and a fungus targeting the beetle are possible, but researchers still must conduct studies to make sure they won’t harm other native species.

Mapping the infestation is step one. So far, the beetle appears to be contained to three major areas, all on military property. Of the 1,500 beetles caught in 2014, only 60 were found off base. Most days, except on the military base, the traps are empty, bar the occasional live gecko.

Step two is destroying breeding sites. The bugs breed in mulch piles, which means a lot of mulch grinding and burning.

The bug doesn’t appear to have landed on the neighbor islands, but expanding monitoring operations there is on Curtiss’ agenda for 2015. Eradication efforts cost the state and federal governments $2.5 million in 2014. Curtiss has asked for more as the operation continues to ramp up this year.

He’s in the process of buying a drone with a camera to peer down into tree crowns — it’s cheaper than hiring a truck with a cherry picker. He’s also hoping to add scent dogs and dog handlers to his staff to help search for beetles in mangroves and other areas with thick brush.

Eradication efforts in Honolulu are helped along somewhat by white egrets and especially mongoose, the latter of which burrow into mulch piles to gobble larvae.

The beneficial role of the mongoose is welcome, though a surprise. It’s an invasive species in Hawaii as well, and has decimated many native bird populations.

nation@latimes.com

Lin is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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ACIARhexagonsmallACIAR Blog
Every few years, it seems, a scare goes around threatening the end of the global commercial banana industry—and usually the focus of the scare-stories is Panama disease, caused by the fungus ‘Foc’ (short for Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense).
The variety that made banana the ‘world’s favourite fruit’ was Gros Michel, but it was knocked out as a commercial crop in the 1950s and 1960s by Panama disease, specifically a form that we now call ‘Foc Race 1’. The banana that took its place was Cavendish, a variety found to be resistant to that form of Panama disease and subsequently distributed around the world. It currently dominates the global trade in bananas. But now the Cavendish banana has met its nemesis in the form of Tropical Race 4 of Panama disease—Foc-TR4. The new form of the disease has just about wiped out commercial Cavendish production in Malaysia and Indonesia (despite the best efforts of ACIAR’s previous Panama disease project in Indonesia), and this year there have been outbreaks, for the first time, in Africa and the Middle East.

banana panama disease
A banana plantation devastated by Panama disease (Tropical Race 4). Photo: Richard Markham/ACIAR

The front line in ACIAR’s battle with Foc-TR4 has now shifted to the southern Philippines, where ACIAR has recently launched a new project. There, some of the key players who were involved in the Indonesian project—Bioversity International and Queensland’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—have taken on board the lessons learned and are now trying to apply them to managing the disease, in collaboration with Filipino research organisations and commercial industry partners.

While the Indonesian project looked at specific antagonists to Foc, especially other fungi living in the soil that could compete with and control it, the Philippines project is focusing on encouraging farmers to grow groundcovers between the banana plants. Groundcovers can provide a favourable environment for a range of these antagonists to develop naturally. They also provide additional benefits, such as reducing soil erosion and surface water flow that can carry the fungus from plot to plot, as well as reducing the risk of farm workers carrying the disease in contaminated soil on their shoes.

In a recent visit to Davao, the hub of the Philippines’ banana industry, Queensland groundcover-advocate Tony Pattison engaged directly with some of the farmers to see what plant species might be acceptable within their production system. He also met with local researchers to see which species could be sourced locally and rapidly propagated. In addition the team discussed with the farmers how they liked the Foc-TR4-tolerant variants of Cavendish, selected in Taiwan and made available to other countries including the Philippines, through Bioversity International’s BAPNET.
The take-home message from our exploratory visit was that the banana industry is extremely competitive and, while producers are anxious to try our new combination of groundcovers and disease-tolerant varieties, the new technology will have to deliver high productivity quickly if it is going to save the local industry.

There are benefits to Australia too from this research. For example, Australian researchers and industry partners are evaluating and gaining experience in the use of groundcovers to manage Foc Race 1, which attacks Australia’s Lady Finger bananas. It will also serve as something of a ‘dress rehearsal’, in case Foc-TR4 should ever threaten the heart of Australia’s commercial banana industry—the Cavendish plantations in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

By Richard Markham, ACIAR Research Program Manager for Horticulture

More information:
ACIAR project HORT/2012/097—Integrated management of Fusarium wilt of bananas in the Philippines and Australia

ACIAR project HORT/2004/034—Diagnosis and management of wilt diseases of banana in Indonesia
ACIAR project HORT/2005/136—Mitigating the threat of banana Fusarium wilt: understanding the agroecological distribution of pathogenic forms and developing disease management strategies

 

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freshfruitlogoffp

December 24th, 2014

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/12/24/fao-calls-for-global-response-to-deadly-banana-disease/?country=australia
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its partners say that a global effort is needed to prevent the rapid spread of the deadly Fusarium wilt disease in bananas.

bananas 3

Photo: http://www.shutterstock.com

The disease is caused by the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum, and is said to pose a severe threat to economic welfare and food security in developing countries.

Plant scientists have been warning for several years that the world’s most popular banana variety, the Cavendish, has fallen victim to a new strain of the fungus causing wilting and the widespread death of plants.

Now the FAO and a group of international experts have agreed on the framework for a global program on Fusarium wilt that would work on three main fronts of action.

The three fronts are preventing future outbreaks, managing existing cases, and strengthening international collaboration and coordination among institutions, researchers, governments and producers.

Key aspects of the program would include supporting ongoing research, educating producers and assisting governments in developing country-specific policies and regulation for prevention of the disease.

The FAO estimates funds of around US$47 million are needed for the program, and part of that would be used to provide swift on-the-ground assistance to countries facing new outbreaks.

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

“Fusarium wilt disease has been a major challenge in the history of banana production,” FAO head of plant protection Clayton Campanhola said at a meeting of experts at FAO headquarters last week.

“After the devastation TR4 recently caused to bananas in parts of Asia, we have to fear its spread in Africa and the Middle East and also to Latin America, and consider it as a threat to production globally.”

Spread and Containment

The FAO’s plan for a new intervention and prevention program comes on the coattails of a recent case in Mozambique, prompting an FAO emergency project in December to contain the fungus in the African country.

Earlier outbreaks of the TR4 strain of the Fusarium wilt disease, colloquially known as Panama Disease, brought Indonesia’s banana exports of more than 100,000 metric tons (MT) annually to a grinding halt, causing annual losses of some US$134 million in revenue in Sumatra alone.

Currently the disease is severely affecting more than 6,000 hectares in Philippines and 40,000 hectares in China.

Fusarium wilt spreads rapidly through soil, water and contact with contaminated farm equipment and vehicles, making swift responses essential to preventing incursions and outbreaks.

Once soil is contaminated with the fungus, an affected field becomes unfit for producing bananas susceptible to the disease for up to three decades.

The case for genetic diversity

Experts warn that the panacea to Fusarium wilt does not lie only in finding a new immune variety, but to making the banana production systems as a whole more genetically diverse and resilient.

Better use of available local varieties is key to building resilience to disease, preventing food insecurity and major economic losses, according to plant disease expert Fazil Dusunceli.

“We are seeing that production systems with more diverse varieties and crops are more resilient to the disease,” he said.

While many wild varieties of bananas and plantains are not edible, they hold a wealth of untapped genetic material that – with increased investment in research – could be used to make the banana production and industry more resilient to disease.

But experts also stress that the most effective way of combatting the disease is vigilance to employ preventive measures to stop entrance of the fungus into a country or region, and rapid containment if it does.

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http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/05/30/mozambique-panama-disease-talks-to-yield-containment-report/?country=australia

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May 30th, 2014
A development strategy to fight and contain a potentially deadly outbreak of the Tropical Race (TR4) strain of Panama Disease in Mozambique is being put together by a team of delegates who gathered in Africa last month to discuss a tactical approach to suppressing the banana disease so it doesn’t spread elsewhere on the continent. At www.freshfruitportal.com we reveal details of the workshop program ahead of an in-depth report to be published later this year.

Over the last few weeks a delegation of banana experts has been involved in discussions centering on the spread of TR4 to the African continent.

Since the fungus was discovered on a Matanuska banana plantation 15 months ago, a team of experts has joined forces to set up educational programs, while it is understood that a ‘continental action plan’ is currently being drafted.

Key players include the South African research institute Stellenbosch University, the South African Development Community (SADC), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program is also being supported and part funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

“When symptoms of yellowing and wilting of Cavendish bananas that appeared to be spreading were observed in an export plantation in northern Mozambique in February 2013, few would have expected the immense challenges that the following 12 months would bring,” the group has said in an initial report obtained by www.freshfruitportal.com.

“Once the cause of the symptoms was established, business became unusual for many on the continent, and indeed globally, as banana producers and their associated organizations started looking for answers to their questions and for measures to protect their crops.

“The development of a continental action plan to protect bananas in Africa became priority. Foc TR4 is not new to the banana world anymore. It has been ravaging Cavendish plantations and some local banana varieties in Asia for more than two decades.”

The document highlighted that bananas were a staple food for millions of people in Africa, and therefore it was necessary to form not only a containment strategy for the affected farm, but to make the whole continent prepared against a spread and possible reintroduction.

“This is exactly what the African meeting on TR4 intends to achieve,” the report adds.

It goes on to explain the considerable damage to Cavendish bananas and other locally-grown varieties in other countries around the world and how Mozambique needs to manage the disease outbreak.

“To prepare African countries reliant on banana for food and security and income generation, it is necessary to implement a series of informed interventions. The first priority is to contain the outbreak in northern Mozambique and prevent its spread across the region and to neighbouring countries.

“The second phase of activities is to prepare other countries dependent on banana against future incursions of this disease through enhanced plant bio-security frameworks and research capacity.

“Different types of banana germplasm, reflecting the diversity cultivated in Africa, require screening for resistance to Foc TR4, and the appropriate adoption and delivery pathways developed to provide resistant planting materials to hundreds of millions of Africans who depend on the crop for food security and income generation.”

The full report will contain further information including scientific advances and research approaches to detect and manage TR4, the potential impact TR4 will have on food availability in Africa, trans-boundary plant pest management in Africa, a mapping of the risks of any potential spread, and an overall official strategy to manage its control which sets out clear roles and responsibilities for all the institutions involved.

“This is not a task that a single research group or country can achieve. The discovery of TR4 in Mozambique is not a company or country issue. It is a continental issue which needs to be addresses by research organizations, national plant protection organizations, universities and governments throughout Africa,” the report goes on to say.

“The opportunity to develop a strategy and coordinate efforts on the continent has been made possible by much appreciated sponsorship and we thank the organizations for recognizing the importance of the outbreak and for enabling us to develop a combined strategy to deal with it.”

Meanwhile there has been somewhat of a global focus on maintaining TR4 Panama Disease this year with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations hosting a forum in Rome recently to outline the threat it poses to the international banana industry, food security and economies.

Chiquita CEO Ed Lonergan has also praised the global banana industry for its efforts to deal with TR4 and warned it would be prudent to prepare for life without the Cavendish.

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

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ABC Rural By Matt Brann

Updated Mon 12 May 2014, 1:41pm AEST
Banana Freckle disease

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PHOTO: Banana Freckle has been found in the city of Palmerston, NT (Kristy O’Brien)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-09/banana-disease-hits-palmerston/5442914

The Northern Territory city of Palmerston is in ‘banana lock-down’ after the fungal disease known as Banana Freckle was discovered in the suburb of Gray.

The NT’s Chief plant health manager, Stephen West, says the entire city has been declared a quarantine area and banana plants will have to be destroyed if they’re within one kilometre of the infected property.

“For those people that are within a five kilometre area of that property, they’ll be within what we call our control area,” he said.

“So what that basically means is that they can’t plant any new bananas and they can’t move any plant material.

“There will be some people that will lose their bananas in Palmerston.”

Mr West says no banana plant material will be allowed in or out of Palmerston while the quarantine zone is in place.

Banana Freckle was first discovered on Cavendish bananas in the Northern Territory last year, and a number of Top End areas are now under quarantine.

Around $4.4 million is being spent on trying to eradicate Banana Freckle from the Territory.

A Banana Freckle Hotline has been set up on 1800 771 163. For more information click here.

Dr Stephen West was on the NT Country Hour today to explain the ramifications of finding Banana Freckle in Palmerston, click on the audio link to hear that interview.

 

 

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http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2014/04/21/collaboration-key-to-contain-panama-disease-comeback/?country=australia

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Photo: http://www.shutterstock.com

April 21st, 2014

Major banana-producing regions went on alert last week , heeding a warning from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the frightening return of Panama Disease.

The FAO asked traders and producers to step up their monitoring and prevention efforts for Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense, the soil-borne fungus that propagates Panama Disease and brought the commercial industry to its knees in the 1950s.

Although planted for its resistance, the leading Cavendish variety has fallen prey to a recent Fusarium mutation, dubbed Tropical Race 4 (TR4). This evolved strain of Panama Disease has threatened Asian producers since the 1990s.

Fear now grows that this killer fungus could spread further into Asia, Africa and Latin America, following new detections in Mozambique and Jordan.

Gianluca Gondolini, secretariat of the World Banana Forum, said Latin American in particular will need to implement prevention efforts to protect the livelihood of its banana-producing nations.

“Latin America has three of the world’s biggest exporters, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. That poses a threat from a market perspective and has companies and governments on alert because it relates to revenue as well as the livelihood of the people working with banana plantations,” Gondolini told http://www.freshfruitportal.com.

“It could create a similar portrait to what happened in Panama 50 years ago when the entire industry was devastated by Fusarium and all the Gros Michel was replaced with Cavendish.”

Although the consequences of Fusarium propagation are hard to predict, Gondolini pointed to historical examples of Panama Disease to demonstrate what could lie ahead.

“We can talk about what has happened in the past and analyze what has been the impact of Fusarium in previous varieties like Gros Michel, which created a sort of crossroad between the industry entirely failing or replacing it with another variety, which was the case in the 60s,” he said.

“There are places in Asia that have been affected for 20 years by TR4 and the consequence is quite impressive for them because the disease is expanding every year. It is estimated in the Philippines, the fourth largest exporter in the world, that the track is increasing by 7% a year.”

TR4 has already been detected in three of the top 10 banana-producing nations: China, the Philippines and Indonesia. In addition to the recent cases in Mozambique and Jordan, TR4 has also attacked plantations in Australia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Click here for a map of where Panama Disease Race 1 and Race 4 are present.  http://panamadisease.org/map/map

“The point is that the industry is not able to manage Fusarium in agronomic terms. Once it gets in the soil of the plant, it is impossible. There are no options unless you abandon the plantation for years,” he said.

“To say that it won’t spread, that’s an issue. It’s a matter of time. It’s expanding because of the different nature of the disease. It’s through movement of equipment and people. There is always potential risk.”

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In response, the World Banana Forum has created a task force that brings together banana companies, NGOs, government bodies and academics to collaborate on an action plan. TR4 is also on the agenda for upcoming meetings in Kenya, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago, the FAO reported.

“We need immediate action and long-term action. The immediate action is raising awareness, defining informational materials, defining groups. We also need capacity building, training materials, quarantines,” Gondolini said.

“In the long term, the issue relates to resistant varieties, which could be the best solution. We also need an early warning system to detect the disease and prevent spread to other areas.”

Gondolini emphasized the social and economic importance of bananas on a global level.

FAOSTAT lists bananas as the eighth most important food crop in the world and the fourth most important food crop among the world’s least-developed countries.

Bananas not only rank as the fruit of choice for U.S. shoppers, but it is also a dietary staple for many living in West Africa, Central America and Asia.

“It is a global crop so it has an impact on the livelihood of people in producing countries and actors involved along the supply chain,” Gondolini said.

“This is a risk for the sector but also an opportunity to collaborate, so we should really leverage the support of everyone involved in the banana sector.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

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The INDEPENDENT, 09 April, 2014

CAHAL MILMO Author Biography CHIEF REPORTER

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/bananageddon-millions-face-hunger-as-deadly-fungus-decimates-global-banana-crop-9239464.html?dm_i=1ANQ,2D17K,6LPWNX,8KL1J,1

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Disease spreads from Asia to Africa and may already have jumped to crucial plantations in Latin America

Scientists have warned that the world’s banana crop, worth £26 billion and a crucial part of the diet of more than 400 million people, is facing “disaster” from virulent diseases immune to pesticides or other forms of control.

Alarm at the most potent threat – a fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) – has risen dramatically after it was announced in recent weeks that it has jumped from South-east Asia, where it has already devastated export crops, to Mozambique and Jordan.

A United Nations agency told The Independent that the spread of TR4 represents an “expanded threat to global banana production”. Experts said there is a risk that the fungus, for which there is currently no effective treatment, has also already made the leap to the world’s most important banana growing areas in Latin America, where the disease threatens to destroy vast plantations of the Cavendish variety. The variety accounts for 95 per cent of the bananas shipped to export markets including the United Kingdom, in a trade worth £5.4bn.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will warn in the coming days that the presence of TR4 in the Middle East and Africa means “virtually all export banana plantations” are vulnerable unless its spread can be stopped and new resistant strains developed.

In a briefing document obtained by The Independent, the FAO warns: “In view of the challenges associated with control of the disease and the risk posed to the global banana supply, it is evident that a concerted effort is required from industry, research institutions, government and international organisations to prevent spread of the disease.”

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An aircraft sprays fungicide over a plantation (Getty Images)

 

Scientists are particularly concerned about the impact of TR4 across the developing world, where an estimated 410 million people rely on the fruit for up to a third of their daily calories.

According to one estimate, TR4 could destroy up to 85 per cent of the world’s banana crop by volume.

Since it emerged in the 1950s as the replacement for another banana variety ravaged by an earlier form of Panama disease, Cavendish has helped make bananas the most valuable fruit crop in the world, dominated by large multinational growing companies such as Fyffes, Chiquita and Dole.

But the crop – and many other banana varieties – have no defence against TR4, which can live for 30 years or more in the soil and reduces the core of the banana plant to a blackened mush.

It can wipe out plantations within two or three years and despite measures to try to prevent its spread from the original outbreak in Indonesia, it is now on the move. Such is the virulence of soil-based fungus, it can be spread in water droplets or tiny amounts of earth on machinery or shoes.

Professor Rony Swennen, a leading banana expert based at Leuven University in Belgium, said: “If [TR4] is in Latin America, it is going to be a disaster, whatever the multinationals do. Teams of workers move across different countries. The risk is it is going to spread like a bush fire.”

Another senior scientist, who asked not to be named because of his links with the banana industry, said: “There are good grounds for believing that TR4 is already in Latin America.”

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Professor Rony Swennen, leading banana expert based at the University of Leuven

The Panama fungus is just one of several diseases which also threaten banana production, in particular among smallholders and subsistence farmers.

Black sigatoka, another fungus to have spread from Asia, has decimated production in parts of the Caribbean since it arrived in the 1990s, reducing exports by 90 to 100 per cent in five countries.

READ MORE: WHERE SEEDS OF THE FUTURE ARE GROWN

Researchers say they are struggling to secure funding to discover new banana varieties or develop disease-resistant GM strains.

Professor Randy Ploetz, of the University of Florida, said: “The Jordan and Mozambique TR4 outbreaks are alarming but have helped increase awareness about this problem.”

But the large producers insist the problem can be controlled. Dublin-based Fyffes, which last month announced a merger with America’s Chiquita to form the world’s largest banana company, said: “While we continue to monitor the situation, as of yet we do not foresee any serious impact for UK banana supplies.”

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A lab holding the World Banana Collection at the University of Leuven A lab holding the World Banana Collection at the University of Leuven

The Cavendish: A top banana under threat

When the world banana industry found itself in crisis in the 1950s, it was saved by a fruit cultivated in Derbyshire and named after a duke.

The Cavendish banana was grown by the gardener and architect Joseph Paxton while he was working for the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House.

Paxton managed to acquire one of two banana plants sent to England in around 1830 and began growing the fruit in the stately home’s glasshouses. He named his banana Musa cavendishii after the 6th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish.

The Chatsworth bananas were later sent to Samoa and the Canary Islands, providing forerunners for the variety which emerged in the 1950s to succeed the Gros Michel or Big Mike – the banana sub-species wiped out by an early version of Panama disease between 1903 and 1960.

Cavendish is now the world’s single most successful – and valuable – banana, accounting for 47 per cent of all cultivated bananas and nearly the entire export trade, worth £5.3 billion.

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