Old and new plagues hit world’s banana crops

BananaCropsPlaguesBananas, by most accounts the world’s best selling fruit, are under attack by plagues of bugs and fungal infections, according to the UK Independent.  Little Costa Rica, one of the centers of banana production, exporting $1/2 billion worth  a year, has declared a national emergency as mealy bugs and scale insects swarm over the plants.

Climate change/extreme weather episodes is believed  to be the main cause of the banana afflictions, weakening or killing the plants and inflicting ugly blemishes on the fruits that survive. Vast batches are being rejected and there are serious concerns whether the country can deliver on its export agreements.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world a brand new banana-eating disease began hitting crops in parts of Asia and Australia and has now been found in Jordan and Mozambique. Scientific American reports that the new strain has been named Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (FOC). Experts say the vast majority of bananas are extremely susceptible to FOC, and fear that it will pop up in Latin America and the Caribbean, which provide 80 percent of the world supply.

Americans consume an average of 25 pounds of bananas annually and are accustomed to enjoying the inexpensive, tasty and nutritious food the year around.

It’s indeed difficult to imagine any market in the country not offering piles of the easy-to-eat yellow fruit we have so come to take for granted.

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