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Fighting the threats of Banana Bunchy Top Disease in Africa

20/08/2018
Keywords: Burundi, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Crop, Democratic Republic of the Congo, EMPRES, Food chain threats, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Southern Africa, Western Africa, Zambia

Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) caused by the virus named Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) is listed among the world’s worst 100 invasive species. The disease is transmitted by the banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa and through infected propagation materials.

BBTD is endemic in many banana producing countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, it was reported to be present in 15 countries: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia.

Bananas and plantains are produced in over 135 countries, being the fourth most cultivated food crop in the least developed countries. Around a quarter of global production takes place in sub-Saharan Africa where it provides 35 percent of daily calorie intake. Therefore, banana is crucial to people’s food security and livelihoods. Hence, BBTD could potentially have a devastating economic and social impact in the continent.

BBTD is currently a major threat to banana cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa, and a menace for over 100 million people for whom banana is the major staple food.

FAO has been supporting countries in their efforts to control BBTD through awareness raising, farmer training and capacity building in various areas such as surveillance, diagnosis, prevention and integrated disease management.

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