center_img The suspected entry of a virulent banana disease into Latin America has the potential to have a “drastic” effect on the region’s exports over the next decade, according to the CEO of U.S.-based produce company Del Monte.In comments made during an earnings call on the company’s strong second-quarter performance, Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh said the possible presence of Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) – also known as Panama disease – in Colombia could also result in significant price rises in global markets in the future.Colombian authorities in June quarantined two banana farms in the northwest of the country after suspecting TR4 was present.If confirmed, the entry of the disease would be a huge blow for the Latin America banana industry. The soil-borne fungal disease has wreaked havoc on Southeast Asia’s Cavendish banana plantations and beyond.Latin America, which includes many of the world’s top exporting countries, supplies the lion’s share of bananas to world markets.Lower supply would mean “much higher pricing”Asked how serious a threat TR4 is to Del Monte’s banana business, Abu-Ghazaleh replied that it is a treat to the whole banana industry.He added the on the matter of the spread of the disease, “it’s not if, it’s when”.As years can pass before detection, it could have already spread to other nearby countries, he said.”[Banana-growing countries] are taking very strict measures in order to protect their industries,” he said.The representative explained that the industry would have to try to “coexist” with the disease in the future. But he noted that small and medium-sized growers tended to lack the means and resources to be able to cope.last_img read more