Scientists from the IITA and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) of Uganda, in partnership with African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), will soon begin evaluating these promising new banana lines under confined field trials. The Ugandan National Biosafety Committee recently approved the tests, which can now move forward.
The genes used in this research were acquired under an agreement from the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
The highly destructive BXW affects all varieties, including the East African Highland bananas and exotic dessert, roasting, and beer bananas. The crop is also under threat from another deadly disease, the banana bunchy top.
Dr. Tripathi says that there are presently no commercial chemicals, biocontrol agents or resistant varieties that can control the spread of BXW. "Even if a source of resistance is identified today," Tripathi said, "developing a truly resistant banana through conventional breeding would be extremely difficult and would take years, even decades, given the crop's sterility and its long gestation period."
BXW was first reported in Ethiopia 40 years ago on Ensete, a crop relative of banana, before it moved on to bananas. Outside of Ethiopia, it was first reported in Uganda in 2001, then rapidly spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi, leaving behind a trail of destruction in Africa's largest banana producing and consuming region.
BXW can be managed by de-budding the banana plant (removing the male bud as soon as the last hand of the female bunch is revealed) and sterilizing farm implements used. However, the adoption of these practices has been inconsistent at best as farmers believe that de-budding affects the quali
|Contact: Jeffrey T. Oliver|