Banana Breeders Challenged to Breed for Weevils and Nematodes

27 March 2018

Banana researchers from across the globe are congregating in Kampala, Uganda from 27 to 29 March 2018 to discuss options for safe and effective methods to control banana pests and diseases and to reduce the use of harmful chemical pesticides.

Picture of sign for field trials
Field for screening banana for resistance to deadly sigatoka in Uganda. Breeding disease resistant varieties is one of the safe and effective methods to control pests and diseases that the meeting will explore.

While banana is a major staple food and a source of income for millions of people in East Africa, its production is greatly hampered by a plethora of pests and diseases. One of the control methods has been the use of chemical pesticides, but this is no longer a sustainable option due to their harmful effects on the environment and toxic residues.

In the European Union, many pesticides have been progressively withdrawn from use or highly restricted. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, where phytosanitary policies and regulations are often less effective, such pesticides are still being (mis)used, posing a significant threat to vulnerable farmers and consumers of banana.

The workshop has been organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Real IPM, and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) with support from the European Union.

The workshop that will be opened by the head of National Banana Research Program of NARO, Dr Jerome Kubiriba, will be attended by researchers from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Cuba. They will share lessons and experiences and approaches to tackle this problem. This will be followed by field visits to breeding laboratories and trial gardens of NARO, IITA, and Real IPM at Sendusu and Kawanda.

“With climate change, we predict that the pest and disease situation will become even worse as the higher temperatures and rainfall patterns will increase the multiplication rates and prevalence of disease pathogens and pests,” says Danny Coyne, IITA Soil Health Specialist.

“Therefore, the researchers will discuss sustainable measures to address these threats while adapting to climate change through breeding varieties that are resistant to the major pests and diseases and combining this with biological control options.”

The workshop is organized under the Microbial Uptakes for Sustainable management of major bananA pests and diseases (MUSA) project funded by the European Union Horizon 2020. The project seeks to achieve sustainable intensification of banana and enset crops (false banana grown in Ethiopia) through identification, development, and implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) based on naturally occurring beneficial microorganisms. The project is led by Dr Aurelio Ciancio, who is based in Italy.

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For more information or to request images please contact:

Odiirah Nansamba
Communication Officer
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Uganda
+256 782020150 / +256 752787882
o.nansamba@cgiar.org

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