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FUNGUS COULD WIPE OUT PHILIPPINE BANANA INDUSTRY IN 3 YEARS?


MANILA, Philippines - A fast-spreading fungus that kills banana plants, has already infected 1,200 hectares of banana plantations in the southern Philippines since September, Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association told Manila Times.
The virulent type of fungus that spread in banana plantations in the southern Philippines last month could damage the industry in less than three years if nothing is done to stop the calamity, a local paper said.
  • Five years ago, banana planters in the south found traces of this fungus in tolerable levels in their plantations, Antig said.
  • The fungus damaged banana plantations that raised the Gros Michel variety in Central America and the Caribbean in the 1960s; and the banana plantations planted to the Cavendish variety in Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1990s.
In 1998, the Philippines produced 3.5 million metric tones of the Cavendish banana variety, fourth to India, Ecuador and Brazil. The world's total banana production in the same year rose to 56.8 million metric tonnes.
The banana industry is the Philippines fifth largest food exporter. About 280,000 people work in 350,000 hectares of banana plantations in the south.
Source: Agency
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