In the 1920’s, the world suffered a shortage of bananas and it was so severe that someone dedicated an entire song, ‘Yes, we have no bananas,’ to it.
The song, which was a hit back then, is about to become a reality once again.
A terrible plant disease is ravaging the world’s biggest plantations of the popular fruit, and Colombia has even declared a nationwide emergency.
The South American nation found a destructive fungus, called Panama Disease, in the soil of its banana plantations.
First discovered in the 1990’s, the fungus has since been found in a number of regions across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia.
Every time Panama Disease was found somewhere, the commercial production of banana from that particular region dropped significantly.
The fungus never spread across the Americas, which remained the largest producer of bananas for decades.
But now, the deleterious organism – a Fusarium type 4 (TR4) – has been found in Colombia’s northeastern province of La Guajira, across a 180-hectare stretch of land.
Bananas are vulnerable to extinction due to their lack of genetic diversity.
All types of bananas being cultivated around the world are of Cavendish strain. They are named after the Cavendish family, famously known as the Dukes of Devonshire, because the stately home they were cultivated in for the first time belonged to the Cavendish family.
But for decades, the commercial growers preferred another variety of banana, Gros Michel, also known as Big Mike, to the Cavendish.
However, the Big Mike was wiped out in the entirety in the 1920’s by the first known strain of Panama Disease.
Being resistant to this particular strain, the Cavendish became the first commercial choice across the globe ever since then.
Now that the Cavendish has come under the threat of TR4, experts are looking into genetic modification techniques to avoid its potential extinction.
Bananas are the third-biggest agricultural export of Colombia, while its immediate neighbor, Ecuador, is the world’s biggest banana grower.