The Government of Tanzania has barred the importation of banana plants from Mozambique citing the outbreak of the Panama Disease, a fungal disease that is taking a toll on the plant in southern Africa.
A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries is monitoring all entry points into the country to ensure alien banana plants do not cross into Tanzania.
According to Florence Turuka, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, the country is intercepting the risk because banana plants from the northern part of Mozambique are taken to Tanzania by farmers, putting the whole banana industry in the country at risk.
The disease was first seen and identified in 2013 though experts believe it was introduced a few years before symptoms were visible.
The Panama Disease is spread by planting material that is already
infected from existing plantations or through soil such as attached to cars or people’s shoes.
The East African Highland Banana is a cash crop that fetches nearly $5 billion for millions of smallholder farmers in Tanzania and neighbouring Uganda. It is also relied on as staple food.