New varieties of banana are being introduced to Pacific countries in an effort to safeguard the region from a strain of Panama disease.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community says six new varieties of the Giant Cavendish banana are ready to be distributed in case the agressive strain spreads from Indonesia.
The new varieties are tolerant to the disease which has destroyed banana crops in South America, Australia, and Indonesia.
A SPC plant pathologist, Tony Gunua, says strains of the fungus which causes Panama disease are already in Pacific countires, but none of them are aggressive.
He says the tolerant varieties have been brought to the Pacific in case an agressive strain spreads from Indonesia.
"That's why SPC had to take these tolerant, six, clone varieties. So that the people will have it when it comes, the tolerant ones will withstand the disease."
Tony Gunua of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community