Global alliance for BBTV control in Africa

Building a collaborative, public-private R4D alliance for an integrated control of banana bunchy top disease in Sub-Saharan Africa

Arusha, Tanzania, 2-4 February 2013

Children in Bananas with BBTV-LKumar, IITABanana bunchy top disease (BBTD) caused by the Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) is a great threat to food and income security of millions of people. The disease renders plants unproductive, eventually killing them. BBTD spreads into new fields along with infected planting material and also through an insect, the banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa), which is widespread in all banana and plantain-producing areas. The spread of bunchy top into new areas can initially remain undetected, complicating timely eradication work and prevention of new outbreaks. Once the disease is present in a region, it is extremely difficult to eradicate. No durable sources of resistance have yet been identified.
Bunchy top is a great threat to banana production and productivity. BBTD was first reported from Africa in 1901, however, extensive spread into new production areas was observed during the last two decades. Currently, the disease has been recorded in 35 countries across Africa, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific Islands, including Hawaii (USA), but not in the Americas. In Africa, occurrence has been confirmed in 14 countries, namely Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, DRC, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia.

The workshop considered three thematic areas based on different country and local contexts in terms of BBTD presence and severity, cultivar and production system and implementation infrastructure. These are (i) diagnostics, surveillance, quarantine and awareness raising; (ii) potential of emerging technologies in controlling the virus and aphid vector, and (iii) integrated management and farm/community recovery strategies based on clean planting materials and integrated pest and disease control.
The group concluded to take an alliance approach to conduct and coordinate research:
– to understand disease epidemiology and ecology;
– develop and distribute sensitive diagnostic tools;
– augment host resistance to the virus and the insect vector;
– explore biocontrol options to manage aphid vector;
– put in place location specific clean banana production and distribution systems;
– develop capacity for disease recognition and knowledge of control options;
– train farmers and entrepreneurs in production of clean planting material;
– train scientists to continue surveillance of disease incidence and update distribution maps
– get a better understanding of factors that drive the field spread; and
– develop appropriate management packages to delay spread and manage the disease in endemic areas.

To know more about the findings of the workshop and the role of the Alliance, read the report here.