Banana growers warn of billions in losses due to fusarium wilt
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) warned that local cavendish bananas may be wiped out if the infestation of the Panama disease or fusarium wilt in banana plantations is not controlled.
BusinessMirror reported that about 15,500 hectares of banana plantations, mostly in Region 11, have been affected by the disease.
PBGEA Executive Director Stephen Antig was quoted as saying that potential damage could run up to billions of pesos and could render the Cavendish variety obsolete.
The fusarium wilt leads to the yellowing and wilting of banana leaves until the plant dies.
Growers have expressed fears of a more widespread infestation once the La Nina phenomenon comes in in the third quarter.
Experts have developed a variety that is resistant to fusarium wilt and government has been distributing them to growers.
The Philippines produced 9.08 million metric tons of bananas in 2015, and production is expected to drop this year due to El Nino.