Bananas at Risk

February 21, 2020
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DREW WILLIS FOR TIME FOR KIDS; BACKGROUND: SERGEY RYUMIN—GETTY IMAGES; EYES: MIRAGEC/GETTY IMAGES; BANANA: ISABELLE ROZENBAUM—GETTY IMAGES

Bananas are an important fruit. Millions of people depend on them for food and money. But bananas are in trouble. They are being attacked by a disease called Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

TR4 is a fungus. It lives in the soil. When TR4 strikes, a banana plant turns yellow, dries up, and dies.

A banana plant is infected by Tropical Race 4. When this happens, the plant turns yellow, wilts, and dies.

COURTESY QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

TR4 is showing up on banana farms around the world. It is killing banana plants in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and the Middle East. “[TR4] can easily spread,” Fazil Dusunceli told TIME for Kids. He works for the Food and Agriculture Organization. “It is very problematic.”

An Uncertain Future

People are coming together to save the tropical fruit. Some scientists are even working to create new banana plants in a lab. These plants would not be harmed by TR4.

A farmer in Costa Rica tends to bunches of healthy bananas.

COURTESY CHIQUITA

But not everyone is worried. Andrew Biles works for Chiquita. That is one of the biggest banana companies in the world. “I think there’s a great future for bananas,” he says.

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