Q. Why is this in news ?
A. The scientists of Indian Council of Agriculture Research or ICAR have found a cure for one of the most dreaded diseases on Banana.
Q. What is Panama Disease?
- The fungal disease, called Fusarium Wilt, is popularly known as the ‘Panama Disease’ and afflicts banana plants.
- For the first time, Indian scientists have brought out a biopesticide that can control the disease. This biopesticide has been made using another fungus.
- For a long time, banana cultivators have been struggling with the Panama Disease.
- This disease affects the Cavendish variety or the G9 Banana cultivar, which is the most widely grown banana in the world.
Q. What is its status of spread in India?
- In India, more than 60 per cent of bananas are of the G9 variety.
- They go by names like ‘Grand Naine’, ‘Robusta’, ‘Bhusaval’, ‘Basrai’ and ‘Shrimanth’.
- Farmers in at least four Indian states — Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh — have been badly affected by this disease.
- All these are areas where the Cavendish variety is grown.
Q. Why is the disease so deadly?
- Panama Disease is caused by a fungus with a long and complicated name called Fusarium oxysporum f. Sp cubense.
- One of its strains which is called ‘Tropical Race 4’ or ‘TR4’ is creating the most havoc, threatening almost 80 per cent of the global banana production.
- The disease is so deadly that it is sometimes referred to as ‘banana cancer’.
- The fungus resides below ground and infects the plant through its roots. The infection then stops water and essential nutrients from being transported to the rest of the plant.
- The leaves begin to wilt, and the stem of the plant starts turning dark brownish before the plant dies. If one plant gets it, then it is most likely that an entire plantation can be wiped out.