It is well know that the top three staple foods in the world are rice, wheat, and maize. The fourth contender may however surprise you – it is the humble banana. More than 100 million tons of bananas are produced annually, of which the bulk is consumed locally.
Grown in more than 100 countries worldwide, the export of banana is a multibillion-dollar business. Developing countries with tropical regions including Latin America, Asia and Africa, are the main producers.
Apart from containing various antioxidants and phytonutrients, bananas are a source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber and potassium.
According to the study recently published online in the journal PLOS Genetics, world production of bananas has recently come under threat from three fungal diseases that have joined forces, and has been dubbed the Sigatoka complex. The complex consists of black Sigatoka, yellow Sigatoka and eumusae leaf spot. According to American plant pathologist Ioannis Stergiopoulos from UC Davis, this complex has the potential to eradicate the supply of bananas in the next 5 to 10 years.
The greatest risk is posed by black Sigatoka. It produces enzymes to break down the banana plant’s cell walls and is capable of shutting down the plant’s immune system.