Colombia this month declared a national emergency, following confirmation of the presence of Fusarium tropical race 4 (TR4), a soil-based fungus which attacks banana plants. This is the first time that TR4 has been found in Latin America, the region responsible for up to four-fifths of the world’s banana exports. Exporters beyond Colombia have reacted with alarm.
- Banana companies fear a drastic reduction in Latin American banana exports over the next 5-10 years.
- Finding a replacement variety, or developing a genetically modified Cavendish, could take 5-6 years, driving market uncertainty.
- Major regional producers face the need to implement costly soil contamination containment measures.
- The spread of TR4 to Venezuela, where bananas and plantains are an important staple food, could drive further outward migration.