An inaccurate report, claiming that many banana trees in the southern Chinese region had been infected with a disease known as "banana cancer," has put the livelihoods of banana growers in jeopardy.
Banana Conspiracy Revealed
Banana farmers in Hainan Province have been hit by a slump in prices since as early as April.
This has occurred as the prices of almost all other primary products, such as corn, pork and eggs, have surged.
The main culprit was believed to be a text message via mobile phones, which spread a rumor that a virus similar to SARS was found in a banana from the southern island, according to a China Central Television report over the weekend.
Meng Xuru, director of a provincial office in charge of the development of subtropical crops, said the message was not widely spread in Hainan, but many people in some major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have received it.
Banana Sales Hit by 'Unfair' Media Report
An inaccurate newspaper report has put the livelihoods of banana growers in jeopardy, a local official has claimed.
Deng Qinxin, director of the Gaozhou bureau of fruits, said banana sales in Gaozhou, Guangzhou Province, had slumped since March when a local newspaper published an incorrect report claiming that many banana trees in the southern Chinese region had been infected with a disease known as "banana cancer".
Deng said the price of bananas had also plummeted in the city, which is a major banana production base within Guangdong Province.
The price in Gaozhou is currently about 1 yuan (US$0.13) per kg, just half what it was at the start of the year, he said.
Local banana grower Zhang Yufang said on Monday that she now has to work long into the night in an effort to move her stock, cycling through the alleyways of Gaozhou looking for customers.
The 42-year-old, who manages two mu (0.13 hectares) of banana trees, said that in the past she never had to worry about sales. But now, even though the price is very low, sales remain sluggish, she said.
"Zhang is just one of the millions of victims of the incorrect media report," Deng was quoted as saying by the Guangzhou-based New Express Daily yesterday.
Green Pass for Banana in Haikou
A truck carrying banana drives through a special pass opened for banana-transportation at Xiuying ferry in Haikou, capital of southern China's island province of Hainan.
Local administrations in Haikou have opened green passes at ports to facilitate banana business and avoid more losses after ghastly news on the "banana cancer" swept most parts of China.
As the rumor of the "Panama Disease" outbreak in banana plantations gradually quiets down, the local government has decided to give a 300-yuan subsidy (US$37.5) for each banana truckload in attempts to boost the fruit sale and reduce losses suffered by local banana planters.
Panama-disease-contracted Bananas Edible
The bananas which have contracted Panama disease are safe to eat, said the Ministry of Agriculture on Saturday.
In the southern China province of Hainan, the price of bananas has dropped dramatically after consumers were scared by misleading media reports that described the disease as "SARS of the banana" and called infected bananas "poisonous fruit".
An official with the ministry said the banana is a major cash plant in south China and has won good reputation among consumers.
He said the country has grown 260,000 hectares of bananas and produces nearly 7 million tons every year, ranking third in the world.
Ninety percent of the bananas are of find breed, said the official.
The ministry has sent experts to major banana producing areas to investigate the epidemic situation and help farmers to prevent the disease, he said.
South China Banana Plantations Ravaged by Disease
Millions of banana plants in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, have been wiped out by Panama disease, the Beijing News has reported.
Panama disease, also called Banana Wilt, is a devastating blight caused by a soil-inhabiting fungus species.
The disease is encroaching on Guangdong's banana plantations by an annual increase of 20 percent. So far, 3,333 hectares - 38.5 percent of the total 8,667 hectares - of banana farms in Guangzhou have been affected by the epidemic.
"The city's major banana production bases, including Fanyu, Zhongshan, and Nansha, are all infected. Millions of banana plants have died and unfortunately we have found no cure for the disease, " said Liu Shaoqin, a researcher with Guangzhou's Academy of Agricultural Science.
In the early stages of infection, about five percent of the banana plants on a farm will perish. A year later, 20 percent will be infected and die. In the third year, the percentage of infection will soar to 50 percent and the whole farm will be destroyed in just four years, according to Liu.
"The disease is the cancer of the plant community," he said.