The bananapocalypse is coming to ensure that bananas become extinct through a slow and miserable death. By becoming victims of the fungal pathogen - Panama Diseases, there’s a high chance that bananas will be wiped out of earth sometime within the next ten years. Although the issue started due to Panama disease, researchers have proved that its part of a bigger problem - unsuccessful diversification. This failure towards diversification is affecting global agriculture, and the Demise of the Cavendish banana is one of the major symptoms.

Bananapocylpse is nothing new

In 1840, Ireland presented itself as a devastating case study of the dangers of monoculture. A fungal pathogen, then known as potato blight (Phytophthora infestans), in 1845, destroyed every crop of potato that year and then raged towards the rest of Europe, starving millions of people in Ireland alone. Ireland, being dependant on potatoes suffered immense monetary loss.

The same thing is now occurring with bananas. Although bananas come in many shapes, colors, sizes, and flavors, a single cultivation became the fruit of the masses - Gros Michel, also called the Big Mike. Just like every other banana, Big Mike was cultivated by a monoculture method - the process in which growers propagate a plant by taking a piece of cutting and making it the basis of a new plant.

As all the bananas were literally a clone of each other, so the new generations had a reduced immunity towards pathogens.

Monoculture, being an easy way, became a gold standard method for banana connoisseurs, but after some time bananas started to expire, turning brown in the process. Upon research, it was found that the fungus 'Fusarium cubense' was the main cause of this wilt.

Even though the problem surfaced in Australia, the Panamanian economy was most affected by this issue, therefore, this dreaded banana wilt soon caught the name - Panama Disease.

Poor Cavendish banana

Seeing this emerging issue, a mid-level company, Standard Fruit, started to experiment with a new family of bananas- the Cavendish bananas (named after the Duke of Devonshire - William Cavendish).

Although this banana fought against the pathogen, it had another problem: it could be bruised easily, and it didn’t last long on a ship. Years went by, and people forgot about the Panama Disease. But now, a new variant of the fungus - Race 4, has started to wreak havoc in Cavendish plantations, especially in the Southeast Asia regions. Now the demise of this family of bananas is imminent, and it’s thought that within a few years’ time, Africa and Latin America will face the death knell for these Cavendish bananas.

The world needs to get a replacement and this time the word “Variety” should be capable of handling such pathogens. Although the government is trying to implement stringent cultivation rules to protect the commercial plantations from getting infections, experts say that this is naïve as many analogous struggles were put forth for the protection of Gros Michel. Moreover, people need to allow a few different variants of bananas to grow, because if they don’t, there's a high chance another disease will threaten one of the world's favorite fruits.