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Last Updated:[28-11-2011 06:28:34 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Banana Plantations in Philippine and Exports at Risk due to Virus in Southeast Asia

tradenews Thousand hectares of banana plantations in the Philippines a disease that has ravaged banana plantations across Southeast Asia could wipe out the Philippine industry in three years unless the government finds a cure, a growers' group warned.

Scientists in the Philippines are urging their government to set up a national research Centre to develop varieties of banana resistant to a disease now threatening plantations across.

Disease, called Fusarium wilt, is caused by a fast-spreading fungus that kills the plant it has already infected 1,200 hectares (2,950 acres) of banana plantations locally.

The 'tropical race 4' strain has already wiped out 1,200 hectares of banana plantations, particularly the Cavendish variety.

The banana sector is also the country's fifth largest export industry, directly employing 280,000 people the Cavendish variety being the most lucrative, as it is the most popular type of banana around the world.

Traces of the fungus were found in controllable levels in the Philippines five years ago. The disease also destroyed Cavendish plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1990s.

Antig told SciDev.Net that the disease has also spread to other banana varieties, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of farmers in the country. "Most of those affected are small growers who cannot afford or do not know what measures to take". Antig urged the government to immediately establish a research institute that would work on a banana variety that is resistant to Fusarium wilt, AFP reports.

Source: ibtimes

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