Let’s have a look at bananas and their diseases
Geographic distribution of banana plantations
Banana plants may grow with varying degrees of success in diverse climatic conditions, but commercial banana plantations are primarily found in equatorial regions, in banana exporting countries. The four leading banana export countries worldwide are Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippines, and Colombia. Ecuador provides more than 33% of the global banana export. In 2004, banana producing countries totaled 130. Production, as well as exports and imports of bananas, are nonetheless concentrated in a few equatorial countries. 75% of total banana production in 2004 was generated in 10 countries. India, Ecuador, Brazil and China produced half of total bananas. Latin American and Caribbean countries lead banana production up to the 1980s, and Asian nations took the lead in banana production during the 1990s. African production levels have remained mostly unchanged.
Banana growing is a significant economic engine in many banana exporting countries because it is labour intensive, delivers a relatively quick return on effort and investment, provides a weekly income year round, and the crop recovers quickly from hurricanes and other natural disasters. Banana industry exports worldwide total over 100 million tons in a market which generates over US$5 Billion per year and employs millions of workers.
The banana market
Of the agricultural products, the banana is the fourth most important food product within the least developed countries, being the staple food for some 400 million people . Of all the fruits, it holds first place by production volume and is amongst the five most consumed fruits on the planet.
Some 1,000 varieties of banana trees have been identified in more than 150 countries, producing around 105 to 120 million tons (Mt) of fruit a year. There are two main families: the sweet banana or “fruit”, essentially the Cavendish variety, which represents around 60 to 65 Mt, and the cooking banana – particularly the “plantain” in Africa or the “pisang awak” in Asia – consumed more as a vegetable, which represents around 40 to 50 Mt. Both are mainly autoconsumed as only around 14 Mt of fruit bananas, generating $ 7.9 billion (2009), are traded internationally. Exports of the plantain banana are increasing but still remain a little known and limited market compared with the fruit banana.
from: UNCTAD United Nations Conference On Trade And Development
Pests and diseases of bananas
An interesting document about banana diseases from the National Horticulture Board by the Government of India
a list of pests and diseases that affect banana crops in Queensland.
The most important disease of this important fruit is Black Sigatoka
Banana is now one of the most popular of all fruits. Although it is viewed as only a dessert or an addition to breakfast cereal in most developed countries, it is actually a very important agricultural product. After rice, wheat and milk, it is the fourth most valuable food. In export, it ranks fourth among all agricultural commodities and is the most significant of all fruits, with world trade totalling $2.5 billion annually. Yet, only 10% of the annual global output of 86 million tons enters international commerce. Much of the remaining harvest is consumed by poor subsistence farmers in tropical Africa, America and Asia. For most of the latter producers, banana and plantain (which is a type of banana) are staple foods that represent major dietary sources of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C, and potassium, phosphorus and calcium.
from: The American Phytopathological Society
Farmers race for a cure for ‘banana HIV’
Emerald green banana plantations stretch to the horizon in northern Honduras. But these fields — indeed, the entire banana supply chain for the US supermarkets — could face ruin if a plant disease now ravaging Asia gains a foothold in Latin America.
The soil-born fungus, called Tropical Race Four, turns banana trees a sickly yellow as they wither and die. There is no treatment or cure for the blight, which has taken out millions of acres of bananas in Asia.
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