IITA On Prevalence Of Banana Bunchy Top Disease

An official of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), displaying method of eradicating BBTD-affected plants during the field day.

An official of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), displaying method of eradicating BBTD-affected plants during the field day.

IN its bid to manage the invasion of the Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) in Nigeria, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), has begun the implementation of control measures for the eradication of infected plants and recovery of production in BBTD-infested areas.

As part of the measures, banana farmers in Idologun community, Yewa South Local Government, Ogun State have benefited from a field day held recently to demonstrate and deploy control measures.

BBTD, a destructive virus disease of plantain and banana, discovered in 2011 is caused by Banana bunchy virus (BBTV). Diseased plants are severely stunted and do not produce fruits. The disease spreads by aphid vector and propagation of infected planting materials (corn, suckers and tissue culture plants).

IITA’s Virologist, Lava Kumar, who led a team of experts from IITA, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) and National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Nigeria, for the field day, where over 150 farmers and extension workers were exposed to methods of eradicating BBTD-affected plants and use of virus free planting materials to recover lost production, said the spread of the disease into new areas can initially remain undetected, complicating timely eradication work and prevention of new outbreaks.

The field day also served as avenue of creating awareness about the disease, to educate farmers on how to produce clean planting materials and business opportunities for rural youth in production and supply of banana planting material through a model being developed in collaboration with IITA Youth Agripreneurs.

Kumar added that once the disease is present in a region, it is extremely difficult to eradicate, adding that sources of resistance are yet to be identified. He stated that growers inadvertently move infected suckers leading to spread of the disease. “For now, there is no cure for the disease.”While conducting journalists round some of the banana plantations, he disclosed that the disease spreads through infected planting materials and through an insect vector, known as aphid.

The NAQS representative, Dr. Charles Onyeani, who stated that without intensive efforts, disease will continue to expand in West Africa, said supply of clean planting material is key to improve banana production in affected areas.

He appealed to those who have not keyed into the programme to do so by eradicating their infected plants, assuring the farmers that NIHORT and IITA would ensure the provision of suckers for them to plant.

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