Plant pathologist Dr Rob Reeder has this week spoken to Greg Peterson of the US-based Urban Farm Podcast about how the global supply of bananas (particularly the Cavendish variety) could be put at risk from a three-pronged attack of pests and diseases.

In the podcast, Dr Reeder reveals the reasons why the fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4), together with the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) and the Banana Skipper butterfly (Erionota spp), could destroy banana plantations across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

As part of the solution to the problem, which could cost the global banana industry $35 billion as highlighted by CABI in a story publicised in December, Dr Reeder underlines the work of the Plantwise programme including how it helps farmers in developing countries diagnose and manage pests and diseases at its plant clinics.

Listen to the blog and find out more about:

  • How Dr Reeder got interested in tropical crops
  • More about the Plantwise Programme and what it is trying to do
  • How Third World farmers can get help with their crop issues at Plant Clinics
  • Why bananas are so threatened at this time
  • The root fungus that has moved across the world and is on its way to South American
  • Produce security and the challenges of keeping pests and diseases from spreading
  • How countries can work together to help with bio security
  • The Cavendish Banana and why we may have to start eating a different variety
  • How we can help slow the spread of the plant diseases
  • The invasive plants and pest project with CABI
  • Integrated Pest Management and how the CABI includes this in its programme


In the podcast, Dr Reeder, aside from the subject of banana pests and diseases, reveals more about what makes him 'tick' as a scientist including insight into his failings, successes, drive and advice for others as well as his book recommendation.

You can find out more about the podcast on the Urban Farm website.

Learn more about the Plantwise programme here.


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