By Oscar Nkala
The Mozambican government has banned the movement of bananas in and out of the Cabo Delgado and Nampula regions following the outbreak of Panama disease, also known as banana wilt or Fusarium wilt.
Fusarium wilt is a lethal fungal disease that is caused by a soil-borne fungus which enters the plant through the roots, colonizes the xylem vessels and blocks the flow of water and nutrients.
In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security said the outbreak has affected large areas of the Matanuska and Jacaranda banana plantations, and may wipe out the entire banana crop across the country if not confined and controlled.
The ban also covers the inward and outward movement of propagating crops such seedlings and stalks. In addition, no one except farm workers and officials from government ministries involved in enforcing the quarantine, may enter the affected farms.
The ministry has also advised fruit dealers and consumers to ensure that bananas sold in the Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces are washed and disinfected with fungicide and transported in safe and hygenic conditions.
Further, all packaging material must be treated to kill the soil-borne fungi that causes the disease.