A banana-killing disease is spreading across the world and threatening to wipe out commercial production of the fruit. This so-called new Panama disease is devastating crops in the Philippines, where Japan gets most of its bananas from.
Japanese importers fear the disease will one day make the fruit hard to come by.
No cure has yet been found for this new strain of fungus, which fatally attacks the roots of banana plants.
The disease was named after the Central American country of Panama, where the original strain was first diagnosed about 100 years ago. That strain nearly brought an end to the banana trade.
That crisis led to the development of the current varieties that are resistant to the earlier strain. But they are susceptible to the new one.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said the latest Panama disease was discovered in Taiwan in 1990. Further infections have since been confirmed in China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The disease has spread rapidly in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, one of the country’s major banana-producing areas.
A local group of growers says one-fifth of the island’s trees have been infected. It said banana production has fallen more than 20 percent in the past 5 years, and that further drops are expected.
The Philippine government has been trying to develop a new resistant strain for the past 3 years. But it’s unlikely these new bananas will be commercially available in the foreseeable future.
I Word Understanding
Wipe out – to remove
Strain – pressure
II Have your say
1. Will this be the end of banana consumption in Japan?
2.Japan is a large market for fruits and its consumers spend $10 billion per
year (wholesale value) on fresh and preserved fruits.
List of countries exported fruits to Japan
1. United States sent about $450 million in fruit exports to Japan
2.Philippines sent about $250 million in fruit exports to Japan
3.Mexico $178.5 million
4. There are number of obstacles that Japan must overcome on import of fresh fruits and fruit products into Japan
*Farming fruits production has became world-wide crisis
*Japanese household fruit expenditure consumption has declined
* Destabilization and poisoning theory of foreign countries on large-fruit producer countries