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New fungus strain threatening world’s bananas

UN and partners launch campaign to tackle new fungus strain threatening world’s bananas

18 October 2017 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced on Wednesday that it is working with partners to help protect the world’s banana crops a new strain of fungus, known as Fusarium wilt TR4, which can last for years in the soil.

According to FAO, the “insidious” fungus poses major risks to global banana production and could cause vast commercial losses and even greater damage to the livelihoods of the 400 million people who rely on the world’s most traded fruit as a staple food or source of income.

“We need to move quickly to prevent its further spread from where it is right now and to support already affected countries in their efforts to cope with the disease,” said Hans Dreyer, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division. He stressed that the resilience of banana production systems can only be improved through continuous monitoring, robust containment measures, strengthening local capacities and enhancing global collaboration.

Fusarium wilt TR4 was first detected in Southeast Asia in the 1990s and has now been identified at 19 sites in 10 countries, including the Near East, South Asia and Mozambique in sub-Saharan Africa.

In our Soundcloud, UN News talks to Fazil Dusunceli, an agricultural officer at FAO headquarters in Rome, about the $98 million global programme to contain and manage a new fungus strain launched today by FAO and its partners Bioversity International, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the World Banana Forum.

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