You wouldn’t expect it when you look around the supermarket, but in fact all bananas are the same: “Whatever sticker is on it, it’s all Cavendish,” Kema says. Cavendish bananas represent more than half of world production and more than 95% of bananas exported to the West.
And this is also the underlying problem: “It’s a huge monoculture in the world, there is a great genetic uniformity”. Anyone in the know knows that it takes trouble. If a certain disease appears, all plantations are immediately threatened.
Growing on contaminated soils
Why did banana cultivation let itself be seduced by monoculture? “The farmers had a good reason for this: Cavendish was super resistant to the fungus that caused the previous Panama disease. You could grow them on the most contaminated soils.
Until the appearance of a new disease. Tropical Race 4 in this case, TR4 for short. Decades ago, this fungus first appeared in East Asia and has now reached Latin America via the Middle East and Africa. “It’s a disease that can infiltrate your plantation. And then all of a sudden people realize: hey, this plant is going to die, it’s Panama disease. But then you are months too late, because then it’s already in the ground. Trusting your eyes is a tragedy with this disease.
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