Bananas are globally important food crops, with FAO ranking bananas as the 4th largest crop in the world by volume.
However, only a limited number of banana varieties are grown commercially, and these are vulnerable to devastating root-borne diseases. Annual losses to Panama disease are extremely high, around $0.14bn per year, with 10,000 ha destroyed to date. This disease is threatening the production of Cavendish bananas, the world’s favourite type of banana. The lack of disease-resistant banana varieties means that as agricultural land is contaminated by this root-borne pathogen, new virgin land needs to be cleared and brought into production. This threatens forests and ecosystems in the surrounding area.
Ceres is funding a project to develop, scale up, and evaluate a novel, non-GM technology to generate disease-resistant bananas. This technology will help to secure more sustainable production by enabling local communities to continue growing these crops without destroying local habitats, while still allowing us all to continue to enjoy delicious bananas.