The Fusarium Wilt disease could destroy the Filipino banana industry in less than three years unless immediate action is taken, the country’s peak industry body has warned.
Also known as Panama Disease, the fast-spreading fungus had already infected 1,200ha of banana plantations in the country, Stephen Antig of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association told ABS CBN News.
“If we do not contain this and it remains unchecked, then in less than three years our banana industry will die,” he warned.
The fungus had been found in controllable levels in the Philippines five years ago, said Mr Antig, but a more virulent strain of the disease emerged last month and spread quickly through plantations in southern Mindanao.
Mr Antig added that the government needed to create a research institute to develop a banana variety resistant to the disease.
The disease wiped out production of the Gros Michel variety in Central America and the Caribbean in the 1960’s, according to the ABS CBN report.
It also destroyed plantations of the Cavendish variety in Malaysia in the 1990s.