ROME (AFP): The United Nations warned on Monday of the potential “massive destruction” of the world’s banana crop if a disease affecting the most popular variety spreads from Asia to Africa and the Middle East. The disease is “posing a serious threat to production and export” of bananas, the fourth most important food crop for the world’s least developed countries, the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement.

“Countries need to act now if we are to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is massive destruction of much of the world’s banana crop,” Fazil Dusunceli, a plant pathologist at FAO, was quoted as saying.

Gianluca Gondolini, secretary of the World Banana Forum, said it could hurt “employment and government revenues in many tropical countries”.