Publication showcases 50 years of IITA’s plant health research

31 January 2019

A new book, titled “Critical issues in plant health: 50 years of research in African agriculture,” has just been released. Published by Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, the book focuses on plant health issues which play a major role in the overall food production in Africa, affecting both quality and quantity of crop yields.

Over the past 50 years, IITA has been leading research on plant health issues in Africa ranging from the safe handling and movement of germplasm and seed to identifying and managing threats to crops in the region.

The publication puts a spotlight on plant health issues in sub-Saharan Africa which are key to improving yields and summarizes 50 years of research on plant health by IITA to improve the health of crops in the continent. The book also reviews ways of improving the health of key African crops such as cassava, maize, and grain legumes, and brings together leading experts on plant health in sub-Saharan Africa to review progress in dealing with the range of biotic threats faced by African farmers.

The book is edited by Benin-based IITA Emeritus Scientist Peter Neuenschwander, who is also the former Director of IITA’s Plant Health Management Division, and Manuele Tamò, Insect Ecologist and IITA-Benin Country Representative. Several scientists and researchers from IITA and partner organizations have contributed to the book’s contents.

The book has four parts, namely: Managing threats to plant health; Plant health in practice: Managing threats to key African crops; Integrated pest management: Putting it all together and exchange of knowledge with farmers; and Conclusions and future challenges.

Speaking in the lead-up to the book release, Francis Dodds, Editorial Director at Burleigh Dodds said: “… IITA has been a particular pioneer in biological control, starting with programs against the cassava mealybug and the cassava green mite. IITA has been a world leader in the use of entomopathogenic fungi against locusts and grasshoppers and the use of entomopathogenic viruses to combat pests of cowpea, for example.”

Dodds also quoted the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences President, Prof Geoff Norton, who noted that “This book should be essential reading for those involved in all aspects of plant health in tropical agriculture, as well as elsewhere.”

It aims to be a standard reference on improving the management of pests and diseases in developing countries.

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