Plant doctor advice increasing availability of clean banana suckers in Kitema, Uganda

By Mary Bundi and Charles Tumuhe

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In Uganda the majority of the young people are unemployed, and efforts to create employment opportunities within the agriculture sector are yielding little to no interest among them. Agriculture is not viewed as a viable employment sector, due to the perceptions that agriculture as a profession is labour intensive, results in high crop losses from pests and diseases, and generates low income with little profitability that cannot support their livelihoods.

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Update: Plant Health News (18 Jun 14)

Increased awareness of side-effects has reduced post-harvest chemical use on Citrus © Rachel Jones (CC BY-NC)
Increased awareness of side-effects has reduced post-harvest chemical use on Citrus © Rachel Jones (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including chemical-free citrus post-harvest becoming the new standard, how weeds could help feed billions in a warming world and the rehabilitation of banana fields devastated by Xanthomonas wilt in DRC.

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Keeping an eye on banana disease

The bacterial disease Xanthomonas wilt causes banana fruit to rot.
The bacterial disease Xanthomonas wilt causes banana fruit to rot © Pascale Lepoint / Bioversity International

Dr. Fen Beed is an experienced plant pathologist based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He leads research for development activities to mitigate the impact of diseases of maize, soybean, cowpea, cassava, banana and vegetables and promotes plant diseases on problematic weeds.

The first and critical step to manage a disease is to diagnose the causal agent(s). Once this is done, appropriate control methods can be deployed, based on available knowledge or on results generated from targeted research. IITA led an initiative to define the factors required to create a functioning disease surveillance network across a region.

The initiative targeted the two most serious threats to banana in the Great Lakes region of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); namely banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW), caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum (Xcm), and banana bunchy top disease (BBTD), caused by the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). BXW and BBTD are established in several countries in SSA where banana production is of critical importance. Countries included were Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In order, to strengthen both national and regional communication pathways, representatives from both national research organisations and national plant protection organisations agreed to form a network for regional surveillance of BXW and BBTD. The specific objectives were to share information on the diagnosis and management of these diseases and to map their distribution across locations that were of strategic importance to the region. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (10 Apr 13)

Xanthomonas wilt causes rotting and bacteria-laden exudates © Guy Blomme/ Bioversity International (CC BY-NC-ND)
Xanthomonas wilt causes rotting and bacteria-laden exudates © Guy Blomme/ Bioversity International (CC BY-NC-ND)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including measures taken against Banana Xanthomonas Wilt in Tanzania, new citrus varieties released in Brazil and GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!

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