Bananas are pretty much of being the perfect fruit. Filled with nutrients and wrapped in a thick skin that keeps dirt and pesticides out, it’s like they were built specifically for people to hold around within their bags as snacks. However, the Cavendish accounts for 99 percent of the $13 billion worth of bananas exported annually around the world, but every single one of them is a sterile mutant, and that folks, depicts a huge problem.
We weren’t always under the thrall of the Cavendish, as Hank from SciShow explains. They could be the most popular fruit in the US right now, and Australians eat more than 1 billion of them each year, but they’ve only been existed since the 1950s.
Back then, the most popular banana was the Gros Michel – a bigger, sweeter fruit with thicker skin that may or may not have inspired that artificial banana flavour we love so much. It was banana ecstasy for everyone,because not only did the Gros Michel taste better and there was more of it, it didn’t need to be artificially ripened such as the Cavendish.
However the Panama illness occurred. A fungicide- virus that originated in Central America managed to spread through a lot of the world’s banana crops in a matter of years, wiping them out everywhere but in certain parts of Thailand.
“By the time growers understood how vulnerable their crops were, the Gros Michel variety was all but extinct,” says Hank.
Banana producers had to let go of the Gros Michel, and give attention to the feasible substitute – the seedless Cavendish, which could only be reproduced by transplanting the main plant’s stem to make a whole couple of clones that are identical. While these bananas tend to be more resistant for the pressure of Panama infection that killed off the Gros Michel, the fact there’s zero diversity inside the overall worldwide population indicates they’re still extremely vulnerable.
It’s caused by a really common type of fungus called Fusarium, which was probably already in the soil there. A single clamp of contaminated dirt is enough to spread it like wildfire, and it can be transported by wind, cars, water, creating an infection wherever it goes. Everyone who’s ever had athlete’s foot knows how hard it is to get rid of a fungus,” as Dan Koeppel, author of the book Banana: The fate of the fruit that changed the world.
TP4 has already spread throughout Southeast Asia, then managed to get across to Australia, and by 2013 it had achieved Africa and also the Middle East. And it’s already having damaging effects in sites like Mozambique, elderly plant pathologist for that International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, George Mahuku.
The disease has already cost Matanuska, the company that owns the plantations, about $7.5 million. A total of 230,000 plants have been affected and destroyed. At the current rate of infection, the farm is losing 15,000 plants per week, translating to $236,000 per week,” he said.
So, what exactly is to be done? Banana growers are now struggling to engineer a more tolerant type of the Cavendish, but it’s likely to have a whole lot of worldwide coordination to move them out and instil some kind of variety on the planet’s crops.
If you enjoy your bananas, do not get them for granted – they may not be forever around .