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FAO: Deadly banana disease threat to 400 million people

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Staff writer ▼ | December 30, 2014
FAO and its partners say that a global effort is needed to prevent the rapid spread of the deadly Fusarium wilt disease in bananas, which poses a severe threat to economic welfare and food security in developing countries.
$47 million needed   The deadly Fusarium wilt disease in bananas
Plant scientists have been warning for several years that the world's most popular banana variety, the Cavendish, has fallen victim to a new strain of the fungus causing wilting and mass plant die-offs.

Now FAO and a group of international experts have agreed on the framework for a global program on Fusarium wilt that would work on three main fronts of action: preventing future outbreaks, managing existing cases, and strengthening international collaboration and coordination among institutions, researchers, governments and producers.

Supporting ongoing research, educating producers and assisting governments in developing country-specific policies and regulation for prevention of the disease would be key aspects of the program.

Overall funding needs for the work run in the order of $47 million, FAO estimates. Part of that would be used to provide swift on-the-ground assistance to countries facing new outbreaks.

Tropical Race 4 (TR4) of the Fusarium wilt fungus is considered a top threat to global banana production worth $36-billion, which provides a source of income or food to some 400 million people.