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Expert alerts on banana diseases

Expert alerts on banana diseases

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FORMER Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Prof Abiodun Adeloye, has called for increased  surveillance following reports of disease attacks on the banana sector.

Scientists from the United Kingdom-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said an attack on the world’s banana production could destroy about $35 billion worth of the crop.

The experts at CABI said effects of the fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4), with the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) and the Banana Skipper butterfly (Erionotaspp) could destroy banana plantations across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

There are no cultivars resistant to these three threats. Bananas are a vital part of the diet of more than 400 million people in developing countries.

They are grown by millions of smallholder farmers who also rely upon them for their livelihoods. In Africa, about 70 million people depend on bananas, while Latin America accounts for about 60 per  cent of global banana sales. The banana skipper is an invasive species of butterfly originally from Southeast Asia, which has been spreading throughout Asia and the Pacific.

According to experts, heavy infestations can lead to the defoliation of banana plants. Banana Bunchy Top Virus is spreading westwards from Southeast Asia. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

Adeloye called on the government to take steps to protect the industry through good farming practices and enlightenment of farmers.

CABI’s scientists fear that unless a concerted worldwide framework of prevention, detection and management is implemented, this lethal cocktail of fungal, viral and insect risks could combine to make containment of the attacks more complicated and less successful.

 

The post Expert alerts on banana diseases appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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