Black Sigatoka: The Banana Butcher

The banana we know and love may be facing its doom.

An image of Black Sigatoka disease.


An image of Black Sigatoka disease.

Ben Geist, Columnist

The banana, one of America’s favorite fruits, is approaching extinction. “Banana production as it stands is facing an existential crisis,” said Dan Bebber, a plant and disease specialist at the University of Exeter.  According to the HuffPost, The Black Sigatoka, “mycosphaerella’’ disease is a fungi that can spread through soil at alarming rates. The fungus is spread by over irrigation and the overuse of pesticides, making the banana extremely vulnerable to disease.

The Black Sigatoka disease is slowly eradicating the species of banana called the Cavendish banana. This particular species is the most popular of the banana species. Not only is the Black Sigatoka disease already affecting the Cavendish banana, but there is a new strand of this fungus recently uncovered that could devastate the species even further.

Perhaps there is an answer to this problem. The Cavendish banana may not be able to be saved, but it is not the only breed of banana available. The solution would be moving to a new species of bananas. In fact, there are over 1000 different species of bananas, allowing us to have many shots at finding an alternative banana species.

Around 50 percent of all bananas shipped to the U.S. are Cavendish bananas. Banana Link states that The Black Sigatoka disease is spreading rapidly, but the Cavendish banana is still capable of surviving the fungi’s wrath by winning against the Black Sigatoka in sheer numbers. The Cavendish banana is so popular that it would be hard for the Black Sigatoka disease to fully eradicate these bananas, even at its alarming growth rate. However, if the Black Sigatoka disease does manage to render our beloved Cavendish banana extinct, we still have over 1000 other species of banana to fall back on to.