Thursday, February 25, 2010


Bananas infected with BXW.
A new battle in the war against deadly banana diseases begins next month, with seven African countries uniting to launch a Spatial Surveillance Programme.

IITA is to take the lead and focus on limiting the spread of Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) and Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). Under the programme, researchers will use Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to develop a visual record of the diseases distribution in an effort to curb their spread.

IITA began the two-year study into banana diseases last October, to examine, among other things, why BBTD has spread so rapidly in the past two decades.

The first meeting of policymakers and researchers from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia took place in January, when the staff were trained in disease surveillance and control methods. A second workshop in June will hone these surveillance skills.

The work is expected to provide a momentary reprieve for banana producers before creating sustainable long term solutions to tackle disease.

No banana varieties are resistant to BBTD or BXW and there is a danger that all familiar banana types will be wiped out if urgent action is not taken.

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