World's favourite banana, the Cavendish, under threat from fungus

Banana Credit: ITV News
  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

The world's top banana, the Cavendish, is under threat from a seemingly unstoppable fungus that is wiping out crops in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

The fusarium fungus blackens the bananas and kills the plant.

So far it has not yet reached the Caribbean, where most of the UK's banana supplies come from, but according to experts it may not be long before it does.

"The important thing at the moment is to try and contain the infection with good bio-security because once it gets to say, South America, and gets established it will go through the whole population," says Dr Colin Clubbe, the head of Kew Gardens' international conservation program.

The Cavendish has dense bunches of fruit and ripens slowly, which makes it ideal for international shipping.

Scientists are searching deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea for a strain of the Cavendish that is resistant to disease.

At Kew Gardens more than a billion seeds are stored for just such a crisis.

"We have quite a lot of banana seeds and it is certainly possible we have an answer there, and that's why it's so exciting, and that's why it's so important to be collecting and storing seeds," Dr Clubbe said.

Scientists are confident that a replacement for the Cavendish will eventually be found, but the world may have to get used to a new flavour of banana.