Enjoy your bananas while your still can, because there’s a good chance they’re about to become a lot more expensive.
A soil-borne fungus called the Panama disease is currently ravaging tens of thousands of hectares of banana plantations through Asia, Africa and Australia. There’s currently no way to get rid of the fungus once it’s inside the plant, and scientists are worried that it’s only a matter of time before the disease makes its way to the Americas.
The same fungus has actually hit banana crops around the world before, and it had devastating consequences. It was responsible for nearly eliminating the Gros Michel banana in the 1950s. The only reason we still have access to the fruit today, is because producers around the world switched to the Cavendish banana, which, at the time, was resistant to the fungus that’s behind the Panama disease.
But now, a new strain of the fungus has emerged. And since almost every producer in the world now relies on the Cavendish banana, it’s having no problem infecting massive crops all over the globe due to a lack of any genetic diversity.
More than 100 billion bananas are eaten around the world every year, making them the fourth most important food crop behind only wheat, rice and corn.
If the fungus does in fact make its way to the Americas, you can expect prices to rise at your local grocery store. For more information about the Panama disease, check out the video above.