70 million people across sub-Saharan Africa
rely on bananas.
IITA is set to conduct a training course for a number of institutions across Africa so they will be able to control different banana diseases with more efficiency.
Staff from Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia will then be able to recognise disease symptoms in the field and confirm their presence with biotechnological tools in the laboratory.
Participants will also be trained on spatial disease surveillance methods using GPS. This will help in the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) maps showing the presence and spread of the diseases.
The event will focus on two main diseases Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) and Banana Xanthomonas Wilt. In terms of BXW, the course will attempt to forge links between ongoing and planned surveillance activities in order to create a regional disease surveillance network. There is also an in-depth survey scheduled for BBTD.
Banana Bunchy Top Disease is a virus that kills banana trees by causing narrow bunched leaves and stunted, fruitless plants. It is very difficult to spot in newly infected plants so is often missed leading to an unabated spread in some areas.
Banana X Wilt is a bacterial disease spread quickly between plants. It causes leaves to yellow and wilt, creates uneven, premature fruit and the plant eventually rots and dies. Symptoms of BXW are often confused with Panama Disease.
Stunted BBTD infected banans.
The training is a collaboration between IITA, the Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority (RADA) and the Rwandan Agricultural Research Institute (Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda - ISAR). It is funded by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and will take place from 25 to 29 January 2010 in Kigali, Rwanda.