Northland banana grower Hugh Rose has more than 17 different varieties of bananas growing to see which do best in the warm climate of Northland. He is also Tropical Fruit Growers of New Zealand chair and says bananas are one of the easiest crops in the world to grow, with New Zealand’s low disease and pest levels compared to the tropics meaning we should have a flourishing banana industry here. But there is a challenge. Hugh Rose says an affliction called Panama Disease – a strain of which decimated the banana industry in the 1960s – is threatening the commercial production of the Cavendish variety of bananas everywhere they are grown because of low genetic resistance. The Cavendish just happens to be the most popular variety.