14 August 2019
A 175-hectare section of Colombia's banana crop has been contaminated with the fusarium R4T fungus, according to the South American country's national agricultural institute, the ICA. The fungus, popularly known as Panama disease, can remain in the soil for up to 30 years by attacking the roots of banana plants, which are Colombia's third-largest agriculture export after coffee and flowers.
The disease will not affect Colombian banana exports, according to the ICA's director, who also said other countries where the disease has been detected have continued shipments abroad. The fungus is not harmful to humans. Colombia is one of the world's leading banana exporters after Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. The Andean country has 50,000 hectares of banana plantations that generate about 30,000 direct jobs. It exported more than 100 million boxes of bananas in 2018 worth $859 million, mainly to the European Union and the United States.
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