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Workers wash the latex off harvested bananas on a plantation in Milagro, Ecuador, on Wednesday, May 13.

Workers wash the latex off harvested bananas on a plantation in Milagro, Ecuador, on Wednesday, May 13.

Photographer: Vicente Gaibor/Bloomberg

Disease Is Ravaging the $25 Billion Banana Industry

The world’s most popular fruit is under siege. How it adapts now could be crucial to understanding the post-pandemic era.

In the banana plantations of the tropical lowlands of Ecuador, workers are being issued with protective clothing and disinfectant is provided for their tools.

The safety precautions implemented in the farms that stretch between the Andes and the Pacific coast are not simply to guard against the coronavirus. They’re a foretaste of what will be required to shield the valuable crop against another disease, one that poses an existential threat to a $25 billion industry.