You may want to make your loaf of banana bread now because there’s a good chance that your bananas may not be around for much longer. According to Colombian officials, the country is now in a national state of emergency after confirming that a devastating-to-bananas fungus called Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4) has been detected on almost 445 acres of farmland in the country.
This is the first time the fungus’ presence has been confirmed in South America—and that could be bad, bad news for bananas as we know them. If you aren’t aware of how important Colombia is to the banana industry, it is the fourth biggest banana exporter in Latin America. On top of that, the fruit is also the country’s third most valuable agricultural export, behind coffee and flowers.
Sadly, even with TR4 being detected, there is no treatment for plants that are infected with TR4, and they also stop producing fruit well before they die completely. So, though TR4 offs the plants themselves, the fungus can continue to live in the soil for up to 30 years, which means that it could be unsafe to plant future bananas on that land too.